Ever since I started this blog I have noticed an interesting pattern: Each year without fail, I come across an ingredient that gets me super excited. A few years ago, it was gochujang, then truffle mozzarella. More recently, it was Sitka salmon. Any guesses what’s this year’s favorite new ingredient? The title says it all: it’s black/emperor’s/forbidden rice 🙂
I came across black rice a few months ago, when I was getting ready to submit a Country Life Natural Foods order. The look of the rice intrigued me, and at first I thought I should buy it for looks (silly reason, argh!). Then, when it arrived, I started wondering what to make with it (argh again!) Thankfully, there is a lot of information available online about this rice, and my research has led me to exciting intellectual discoveries while learning more about its history.
Once only reserved to Chinese emperors and forbidden to anyone else (hence the name “forbidden rice”), black rice is a nutritional powerhouse rich in antioxidants, which “also contains dietary fiber, anti-inflammatory properties, and has the ability to help stop the development of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and even weight gain.” Its color is a result of its high concentration of anthocyanin, “the same antioxidant responsible for the color of eggplant, blueberries, acaí berries, and concord grapes, as well as purple cauliflower, purple corn, and blood oranges.” Very impressive, right?
While most of the articles I came across mention that black rice can be cooked like any other kind of rice (using a 2-to-1 water-to-rice ratio), one account stood out to me for the remarkable depth of analysis, the one provided by Maria of mariaushakova.com. She gets through the history, culinary attributes and nutrition of black rice, and draws interesting comparisons between black rice and other rice varieties. She also features not one, but three methods for cooking black rice. I used her “pasta method,” which involves cooking the rice just like pasta, in a pot of boiling water, with minimal regard for quantities (the water is discarded at the end of cooking, anyway). I highly recommend you check out Maria’s blog 🙂
I used the pasta method and the rice turned out nutty and pleasantly firm, which made it an excellent ingredient in salads (I have yet to try using black rice in any other kind of dish). For the salad featured in this post, I mixed cooked black rice with kale, chives and marigold from the garden, as well as Peppadew peppers (check out my detailed Peppadew review here), all bathing in a light lime vinaigrette featuring Nuvo Olive Oil Early Harvest EVOO. Notice the cute Peppadew heart on top of the salad? The heart was unintentional- it just happened while I was cutting the Peppadew 🤣
For the vegetarian version, I added BelGioioso mozzarella pearls. The delightful nuttiness of this nutrition-packed rice coupled with the refreshing vinaigrette and the sophisticated spicy Peppadew made for an exciting flavor combo.
Have you used black rice before? What is your favorite rice-based recipe? Let me know in the comments 🙂
Delicious black/forbidden rice salad (vegan or vegetarian)
- 2 cups cooked black rice (cooked about 35 mins in boiling water and then allowed to cool down)
- 1 cup chopped kale
- 1/2 cup chopped Peppadew peppers
- 1 handful chopped chives
- 1/2 cup marigold petals (or any other edible petals), washed
- 1 cup mozzarella pearls (for the vegetarian version)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp + 1 1/4 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tsp wildflower honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small Pyrex cup or bowl, make the vinaigrette by mixing extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, honey, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (minus the cheese, if you're making the vegan version). Pour the vinaigrette on top, and mix until well combined. Taste and add salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Chill the salad in the fridge until serving time. Serve at room temperature as an appetizer, or mildly warm as a main meal, with fresh crusty bread.