Sunday, August 29, 2010

Forbidden Rice Salad with Chickpeas and Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette

Do you know what this is?

I looove forbidden rice. Its nutrition profile is virtually identical to brown rice, but its taste and texture are more mild and less nutty. Plus it's prettier thanks to the presence of anthocyanins, the water-soluble flavonoids responsible for its deep pigment as well as that of blueberries, black raspberries and acai.

I'm not going to ramble on about the benefits of consuming anthocyanins because it seems the jury's still out as to whether their antioxidant properties translate from the test tube to the human digestive tract. But you can't argue with something that tastes good, is good for you and turns a gorgeous purple hue when you cook it. Bonus: you sound fabulous and smart when you serve it. (What's this, you ask? Oh, just some forbidden rice. You know, the anthocyanin-rich ancient grain once reserved for Chinese royalty.)

Does YOUR rice turn purple when you cook it?

Now that you've bought yourself some pomegranate molasses, I recommend you use it to dress a salad of forbidden rice, chickpeas and hearts of palm. 

Forbidden Rice Salad with Chickpeas, Hearts of Palm and Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette
Makes about 6 cups

1 cup forbidden (black) rice
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup hearts of palm, drained and cut into chunks
2 medium shallots, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook rice: place 1 cup rice in medium pan with 1 3/4 cups cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

2. Transfer hot rice to a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.

Note: If you don't have pomegranate molasses, you can omit it -- the olive oil and lemon provide enough flavor -- or substitute balsamic vinegar and a bit of honey.

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