I have been eating a somewhat vegetarian menu daily since we hit 2014, and always have extra rice pre-cooked, waiting in the fridge for a quick meal. Denise has made my life with this new salad. Seriously, life made. -Maggie
Since coming down from the holidays, my go-to comfort food has been a big bowl of wild rice or a hearty grain mixed with freshly roasted veggies. The nutty flavor of the wild rice or hearty grains makes me feel comfortable, but not overly satisfied. Just healthy and content, which is what I crave after a month of indulgence.
I was inspired to make this rice salad after spotting a gorgeous photo over at Bon Appetit; I am often swayed to try a new recipe by the visual alone. Trying to be true to my goal of creating comfort, I followed the recipe to a T. It was good, but I felt it could be warmed up a bit by adding some middle eastern flair.
I am all about texture when assembling new recipes so I upped the amount of wild rice and cut back the portion of black rice. I also used delicata squash, which I love working with since it does not require peeling. I buy smaller squash as the outside skin is thin enough to eat after roasting; be sure to buy organic and wash very well.
The warmth – and in my opinion the real flavor – comes from the dressing, which is made with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, a little honey and tahini. It is slightly tart and sweet, and the tahini adds just what this recipe needs. The texture not only comes from the nutty wild rice, but also the crunchy scallions and juicy pomegranate seeds. This salad is best enjoyed while curled up on the couch (in a nice big bowl) or as a side dish.
Middle Eastern Inspired Black Rice Salad
Makes 6 – 8 servings as a light lunch or side
- 1/2 cup black rice
- 3/4 cup wild rice
- 4 small delicata squash, washed, seeded and cut into half circles
- Olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 4 scallions, whites and part of the light green stems, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- Black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Place the black rice and the wild rice in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and sprinkle with some salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer, cook until tender, about 25 – 30 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the rice, shaking off as much water as possible. Scatter onto a baking sheet and let cool.
- Place the squash on a baking sheet and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top. Toss, season with some salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Half way through the cooking time turn the pieces of squash over to add color to both sides. Cool after cooking.
- Place 4 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, tahini and honey in a small lidded jar. Shake until well combined.
- In a serving bowl add the rice, squash, scallions, pomegranate seeds, cilantro and drizzle with the dressing. Lightly toss to mix.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Photos taken and styled by Denise Woodward.
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