bejeweled rice salad, revisited !
I originally wrote and photographed this recipe for The Community Edition (my local indie paper - shoutout to my pal Beth Bowles!) in December of 2019. I've made this dish many times, and will continue to make it forever, and ever more. It is delightful, and easy! I have made some edits since the first time writing it, so this version includes those changes! I won't be making this again until closer to Christmas, so I've just attached an older photo for visual reference.
This makes for a great addition to your holiday entertaining, and is perfect for sharing (OR gifting! since ya know...COVID) with friends and family. I find it really beautiful to serve, and it is the perfect mix of sweet and salty flavours. This dish is inspired by a traditional Persian jeweled rice salad, and is vibrant yet also warming and grounding. It can be easily prepared ahead of time, which is always helpful for saving time in the kitchen . It is easily customizable with ingredients you may already have in your pantry or fridge, and is great to make when you need to use up fridge items.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
2 CUPS UNCOOKED RICE (I used 1 cup black rice, 1 cup Canadian wild rice)
2 CUPS OF BRUSSELS SPROUTS, SHAVED/SLICED THIN
3/4 CUP OF GOLDEN RAISINS, SOAKED IN WARM WATER FOR 4-5 MINS, THEN DRAINED
3/4 CUP FRESH POMEGRANATE ARILS
1/2 CUP FRESH PARSLEY, FINELY CHOPPED
1/2 CUP GREEN ONION, FINELY CHOPPED
1/2 CUP ALMOND SLIVERS, TOASTED
JUICE OF 1/2 A LEMON AND 1/2 AN ORANGE
3 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP (OR HONEY, POMEGRANATE MOLASSES, AGAVE)
1/2 CUP OF BUTTER
1/2 ONION, FINELY SLICED (OR CHOPPED IF YOU PREFER)
2 CLOVES OF GARLIC, CRUSHED
SALT AND PEPPER
LARGE BOWL FOR TOSSING
-I like to use a mix of different kinds of rice for both texture, flavour and appearance, but literally any kind of rice would work, so you can use what you have! I personally like the pairing of a dramatic black grain rice, and a classic and earthy wild Canadian rice. I always recommend soaking your rice before cooking, to remove excess starch.
-I recommend cooking rice in vegetable stock for better flavour. To bolden your rice flavour more, try incorporating cumin seeds, cardamom, turmeric, or cinnamon into the water mixture before cooking.
-Other add ins you may enjoy: roasted root vegetables like carrots or squash, finely chopped mint, chopped and roasted pecans, pistachios or walnuts, finely chopped apple, local microgreens, or fresh sautéed cranberries.
Cook your rice following the respective cooking instructions, and season with salt appropriately. Add some kind of fat to your rice - butter is best, but oil will work!
While rice is cooking, prepare your other ingredients. During this time you can: shave brussels sprouts, chop parlsey and green onion, mince garlic, toast your almonds, and clean your pomegranate.
In a small saucepan, melt your plant-based butter. Add your chopped onion. Cook your onions at a medium temperature until they are soft and browned. Add in garlic when onions are almost done cooking.
Once onions are done cooking, add in extra olive oil, and maple syrup. Mix. Keep on lowest heat until your salad is ready to dress.
Add shaved brussels sprouts, chopped parsley, and green onion to large bowl. Add in the cooked warm rice directly on top of greens - the warmth of the rice helps to soften the greens and make them more aromatic. Add in the drained golden raisins, pomegranate arils, toasted almond slivers, and any other goodies you may choose to add.
Pour the warmed onion-y dressing onto rice and salad mixture. Squeeze fresh lemon and orange juice into salad. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Toss well to incorporate all ingredients. Serve warm.