And so I made this Moroccan black rice salad and helped myself to nice big bowl of it.
Aaaaaaaaaaand by a big bowl I mean the serving bowl and now the entire salad is gone.
And it was good.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what is a Moroccan black rice salad and why am I making it?
I will answer the latter question first and, luckily for you, it comes in the multilayered form of four very good reasons….
Reason # 1
Despite being a less than adequate dessert/sweet thing/ cake cook I managed to churn out a decent dessert for the blog this week (if you need a memory refresh that was the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake).
There was a little piece of me that wanted to make a third dessert item (challenge accepted!) but, let’s face it, going for three desserts in a row, when desserts are really not your thing, may have been pushing things too far (challenge declined).
I discovered Rocket (“Arugula” for you fancy-pants foodies) this year.
Ok, so I didn’t discover it as a food item (wowee! What is this bitter, green, leafy thing!?) but I discovered it as a new thing to grow in our small, but functional, veggie garden.
And now it’ my favourite thing.
It just keeps growing and you can go and pick off leaves whenever you like. No, seriously; I find standing outside with the furry kids, picking away at the plant and just chewing on rocket leaves. Who does that?
Better yet, How good is that?
It also turns out rocket grows fast. Really fast and, despite my constant cow-like grazing of it, I have enough for a full, 6 – 8 person salad each week.
Hence a new and funky salad seemed like the appropriate course of action.
I had a bag of black rice sitting in my pantry (as you do).
I had bought it for another recipe for a few weeks back which – for some reason I’m yet to figure out – was never made or found its way onto this blog. I had never cooked with black rice before (more below about that below) and wanted to try it out.
The hot, sunny, “summer is approaching” thing we had going on a few weeks ago has turned into a grey, overcast, rain and thunderstorm extravaganza.☔️⚡️☁️
It’s wet, muggy and at that strange temperature where it’s too hot and sweaty wearing pants, but a tad chilly in shorts: It’s raining enough for you to cancel plans that call for leaving the house, without considerable amounts of guilt, but not raining enough to warrant you staying at home all day, curled on the couch and enjoying another Netflix marathon.
So I needed a recipe which incorporated rocket and black rice and fell somewhere between steaming bowl of stew and crisp green salad on the “Hearty/Winter – Light/ Summer Food Scale”
And so the Moroccan-Style Black Rice Salad was born
Making the Black Rice Salad
Now, this is more than just rocket and black rice but if I started listing all the ingredients in the title it would sound more like a shopping list than a recipe.
However, there is also roasted pumpkin, red bell pepper, tomatoes, quinoa and, for a sweet, juicy burst, pomegranate seeds. This is all finished off with a drizzle (or perhaps a dousing) of Lemon and Tahini Dressing.
Sounds good huh?
The secret ingredient? Well that would be Ras el Hanout the one thing that actually makes this salad Moroccan in style. Ras el Hanout is a beautiful spice blend which is available from most supermarkets although, I should note, this recipe uses quantities of my own Ras El Hanout (<— click there for recipe ) so I cannot guarantee the same quantities or results if you do decide to use store-bought.
Although it does add more preparation to an already busy recipe, making your own Ras el Hanout is soooo worth it because your own Ras El Hanout kicks store bought Ras el Hanout’s butt!
Put this salad together and you really have a meal that hits every spot, tantalises all the senses and, for bonus points, scores well of the “healthy” scale too:
- Quinoa offers an excellent source of protein, minerals and antioxidants;
- Pomegrante Seeds, as you may well know, are often labelled as one of those “super foods” – bring on the antioxidants;
- Vegetables: Red Capsicum, pumpkin and rocket all provide their own wealth of nutrition and benefits; and
- Black rice: Compared to its white and brown cousins, these little grains are mega-awesome. Known as “Forbidden Rice” – as it was once reserved for nobles, and not the common people, in ancient China – black rice has been found to have more anthocyanin antioxidants than the same quantity of Blueberries; it also has way more vitamin E and fibre.
Plus it has this wonderful nutty taste that beats the bland nothingness of white rice! Black Rice salad is da bomb!
Although I’m sure many health food or Asian grocery stores will stock Black rice, if you’re having difficulty you can also get it from Amazon.
Finally a note on cooking black rice: You will need to soak the rice for about 1 – 1 1/2 hour, and then rinse, before you follow the recipe. However, there are some brands (such as this one) which have been parboiled and can be used straight away without any pre-soaking and rinsing.
I’ve already ordered my next bag of black rice, and waiting for my rocket to grow again.
Moroccan Black Rice Salad
Full of spices, flavour and health benefits, this Moroccan Black Rice Salad will hit all the right spots
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 to 6
FOR THE SALAD:
- Olive oil
- 1 Medium Onions, minced (either in blender or by cheese grater)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2Tbsp Ras el Hanout paste/ spice blend
- 1 cup black rice
- 2 cups of water or vegetable stock
- 1/2 Cup Quinoa
- 300g Pumpkin, cut into small chunks
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into small chunks
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 loosely packed cup rocket
- Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/4 cup Pomegranate Seeds
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp Tahini
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- This recipe requires a a few things to be cooked and then cooled before the final assembly. Preheat Oven to 200°C/ 390°F. Spread the pumpkin and red bell pepper on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 or until cooked. Allow to cool.
- In a medium saucepan, over medium/high heat, sauté the minced onion and garlic in a little oil for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Add the Ras el Hanout spice paste and cook for another minute. Turn the heat down to low and add the black rice, coating it well in the onion and spice mixture. Add the water or stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 – 30 minutes (or as directed by the black rice instructions). Once cooked, allow to cool.
- In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of water and the quinoa to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 – 30 minutes. Once cooked, allow to cool.
- Combine the black rice, quinoa and roasted vegetables in a bowl along with the rocket and toss until everything is well distributed. Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and cherry tomatoes.
- For the dressing; combine the oil, tahini and lemon juice and whisk with a fork to combine. Drizzle over the salad and serve.