I grew up eating brown rice and I think the first time I ever ate white I was already well into my teenage years. My siblings and I used to live off the stuff and my brother Ben mastered the art of a good cheesy fried-rice (brown rice, onion, soy sauce, sesame seeds and grated cheese) at a very young age. After meeting Si however, eating brown rice became more of a treat than a daily thing. See Vietnamese just don't do brown rice, well none that I know of anyway. So for the most part Jasmine rice is our rice of choice, but nothing will ever be as comforting to me as a bowlful of the good (brown) stuff.
It's easy to forget about the wonders of rice, what with all these super-grains jumping out at you at every turn. And I freely admit that nowadays when I think of making roasted vegetable salad it is protein-rich quinoa that I turn to for the base most often. But I thought it might be quite nice to change things up a bit, return to my roots, and make a good brown rice salad.
I like to buy coriander (cilantro) with the stalks and roots still intact. The finely chopped roots and stalks add great flavour to the roasting pumpkin, while the softer stalks and leaves form the base of the dressing. If you tolerate feta, a little of this crumbled through the salad just before serving would work wonders and for a little added kick, throw in a good pinch of dried chilli flakes into the dressing.
Lastly, thank you so much again to those of you who nominated My Darling Lemon Thyme in the Saveur 2012 Best Food Blog Awards! Being picked as a finalist is enough of an achievement for me, but should you like to cast your vote, please do so here. (I'm listed under Best Special Diets Blog) Xx
roast pumpkin + brown rice salad w/ spiced coriander dressing
I prefer to use whole spices and toast and grind them as needed. Pre-ground spices can be used instead. Just toast them in a dry pan for 20-30 seconds before adding them to the mortar with the garlic. You can also make the dressing in a food processor if preferred. Place all the ingredients into the processor bowl and pulse until smooth. For a little added kick, add a good pinch of dried chilli flakes to the dressing and if you tolerate, a crumbling of feta over the salad just before serving would work wonders!
- 2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice*, cooled
- 900g pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cut into rough 1cm cubes (approx 5-6 cups once cubed)
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- small bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), approx 50g, washed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 small clove garlic, peeled
- the juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon runny honey, or to taste
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Preheat oven to 200 C/400F. Place cubed pumpkin and 2 teaspoons cumin seeds onto a large oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. If your coriander (cilantro) still has it's roots attached, finely chop these and a little of the stems (reserving the rest of the stems and leaves for the dressing) and scatter over the pumpkin. Give it all a good mix with your hands, pop in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning a few times until tender and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
To make the dressing lightly toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan over medium heat. Shaking the pan for 1-2 minutes or until the seeds are fragrant and lightly browned. Tip into a mortar (or alternatively place into a spice grinder) and use the pestle to grind to a fine powder. Add the garlic and pound, before adding reserved coriander (cilantro) leaves and stalks, hold back a few nice leaves to use as garnish if desired. Pound the coriander as much as you can without getting finicky, then add lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Mixing to form an emulsified dressing. Taste, then add more honey if needed and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Combine cooked brown rice, cooled roast pumpkin (and any spices/herbs left on the oven tray) and kalamata olives in a large bowl. Pour over dressing, mix and serve topped with a few picked coriander leaves. Nice eaten slightly warm, room temperature or cold. And leftovers store great in a covered container in the fridge.
* You will need about 3/4 cup un-cooked brown rice for this recipe.
To cook brown rice you can use a rice cooker and use the ratio of 1 cup rice: 1 1/2 cups water.
Or to cook on the stove-top use the ratio of 1 cup rice: 2 cups water.