Black Rice Salad with Pomegranate, Cucumber & Oranges in Dijon Vinaigrette
Black rice. It's exotic and beautiful, earthy with flavor. I make a big bowlful, toss the sticky rice around, drizzle in the mustard vinaigrette, watch the rice loosen into shiny grains. The diced cucumber and pomegranate give it texture, the oranges, juice. I save a few servings in to-go containers to put in the fridge, and one in a glass Mason jar that goes into my bag for a satisfying lunch on the go.
At home, I prepare a bowl and add slices of ripe avocado, its green slivers enhanced by the dark grains and red pomegranate. Cilantro or parsley goes well as garnish, along with other suggestions (within my recipe below). Cucumbers are cooling and quench my palate in a glassful of cucumber-infused water. I use them often, so I thought adding some diced to this would be perfect in this rice salad. Pomegranates are like edible jewels and look so pretty with the black rice. In Chinese natural medicine, pomegranates are 'slightly warming and nourish the blood,' which effects the chi or energy. I like the way they pop upon my tongue.
Ancient gods and goddesses ate them. Women of Pompeii wore pomegranate garlands to signify their romantic availability. Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, carried these ruby red globes for nourishment while on her hunting quest for food. Persephone, the vegetation goddess of ancient Greece, ate pomegranate seeds and went underground until she returned in the spring, symbolizing return to the earth and illustrating the cycle of seasons, from spring to winter, and then spring again. Pomegranates are fruits full of myth and legend. Throughout time we have been enchanted by their beauty and taste.
BLACK RICE SALAD with pomegranate, cucumber & oranges, dijon vinaigrette
The color of black rice isn’t truly black, but violet and earthy. Cumin and pomegranate seeds make it pop with flavor and color, textured with crunchy cucumber and nourishing avocado oil, bursting with oranges for a vibrant spin on rice.
For the mustard vinaigrette:
½ cup olive oil
2 tbl avocado oil
2 tbl Maille Dijon Originale
2 tbl Maille Honey Dijon
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
2 tbl apple cider vinegar
¼ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp honey
sea salt and pepper, to taste
To prepare the mustard vinaigrette:
In a medium bowl or large measuring Pyrex cup, combine the ingredients. Whisk to emulsify and set aside.
For the salad:
1 cup (200g, 7oz) black rice
1/2 orange, segmented
1 large hot house cucumber, diced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbl cumin seeds
½ tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
sprigs of thyme
1 orange slice, squeezed
1 avocado (optional)
To prepare the salad:
Cook the rice according to instructions on the package. My black rice ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 cup rice, 2:1 ratio for cooking. Check the rice to make sure it is cooked. There may be some excess water even if cooked properly. Drain. Allow the rice to cool.
Segment the orange, peeling the skin and pith off with a sharp paring knife. Cut fruit into bite sized pieces. Leave some orange pieces aside to top your rice salad. Chop and dice the cucumber into small pieces close to the size of a pomegranate seed. Mix in bowl with pomegranate seeds and toss in the cumin seeds. Rinse and chop parsley.
Toss rice gently with a tablespoon of avocado oil to loosen the stickiness, and then dress the rice with the mustard vinaigrette, careful not to add all of the dressing. Keep any extra vinaigrette in a glass jar for another use.
Add the cucumber, pomegranate, and parsley. Do not add the orange segments until last. Season with cumin, cayenne, more cumin seeds and garnish with oranges.
If you are going to serve this immediately, squeeze an orange slice on each individual plate or bowlful, top with avocado (optional) and a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like. Thyme sprigs and rosemary look very pretty around the dish for presentation.
[Note via Pom Wonderful: To prepare fresh pomegranate seeds or arils, score 1-2 large Pom Wonderful pomegranates and place in a bowl of water.
Break open the pomegranate under water to free the seeds. They will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the seeds in a separate bowl. Reserve 1 cup of the seeds from fruit and set aside. Refrigerate or freeze remaining seeds for another use.]