roast pumpkin + brown rice salad w/ spiced coriander dressing recipe

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. 

Pumpkins are everywhere at the moment and are one of my favourite vegetables to roast. They make the perfect partner to the nuttiness of the brown rice and my punchy chermoula-esque style dressing.

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!
serves 4

  • 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.

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  • Reply
    April 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I love brown rice and probably don't cook it often enough too, we usually turn to jasmine or basmati. Winter is a good time for brown rice though, you have inspired me to cook some

  • Reply
    Angry Asian
    April 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    it's true, growing up in a vietnamese home white rice was the preferred carb. i didn't try brown rice until college and it's something that i have in the pantry but it is not the first thing i reach for.
    here in the states we are entering spring but i am so enjoying your autumn dish of pumpkins.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    The chermoula esque dressing sounds lovely and the roasted pumpkin is a nice addition. Since I'm in the opposite hemisphere, I'll save this for when the pumpkins come into season but I may just have to try this with summer squash until then.

    • Reply
      April 11, 2012 at 6:57 am

      Yeah I imagine this salad would work great with all sorts of different roast vegetables in place of the pumpkin. Carrots, sweet potato etc…

  • Reply
    April 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    hey,miss emm,i'm just was going to throw in a giant butternut squash to roast for supper and i now know what to do with leftovers!!i have a small addiction to cilantro right now so anything that can be a vehicle for it is tops !!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Cilantro stalks?i have never seen them for sale here with roots attached,i'll remember that for when my gardens in.

    • Reply
      April 11, 2012 at 6:58 am

      It must be the large Asian influence down these ways? The roots and stalks are used extensively in South East Asian cuisine, so most come with them intact.

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    April 11, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Oh so yummy! I always think that brown rice makes the best fried rice ever, and I never make it with anything else. My everyday rice is a real mixture- I use equal quantities of brown for extra nutrition and nuttiness, basmati as it's so low GI, brown basmati ditto, and jasmine to lighten it all up!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    This looks so good! I just posted it on my blog with a link to yours. Have a great day!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Hi. I'm the girl always looking for a new pumpkin recipe! This looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on the Saveur nomination, too!

    • Reply
      April 22, 2012 at 7:23 am

      Thank you xx

  • Reply
    Domestic Executive
    April 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    This reminds me of a recipe that my mum used to make from the Cranks cookbook. I love brown rice but only seem to make it for the bassets' food these days. With a pile of pumpkins though there is no excuse for not giving this a go.

  • Reply
    April 12, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Loving pumpkin season, and this is such a unique way to use it. I adore the addition of cumin and cilantro.

  • Reply
    April 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Yum! Absolutely wonderful recipes, and the pictures are just so amazing. I love the way you use pumpkin, but I know next to nothing about brown rice. Having a gluten-restricted diet, I just might give it a try… 🙂

  • Reply
    Mairi @ Toast
    April 15, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Looks delicious Emma, coriander and pumpkin is a great combination and yes I would most definitely like it with a little feta thrown in for good measure.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    What a unique and tasty sounding combo! Your pictures are mouth-watering.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Just made this tonight for dinner – thanks for the recipe! This is another one of your recipes going on not-to many-ingredients-required, easy-to-throw-together weekly dinners! YUUMM!! I doubled the recipe, so i'm gonna have heaps left over for lunch 🙂

    • Reply
      April 22, 2012 at 7:21 am

      Awesome! xx

  • Reply
    April 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I tried this out and I loved it! We've got locally grown pumpkins here in Singapore. It's not as fancy as butternut squash or other varieties but it came out really good.

    I made a blog post about it too:

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      April 22, 2012 at 7:21 am

      You're welcome, so glad to hear you enjoyed it. Love your idea of adding some cashews for crunch too 🙂

  • Reply
    May 27, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I am loving this recipe, I make it at least once a week and always get compliments from the partner. Perfect nourishing food as the temp drops. Now to try the latest mushroom quinoa recipe you posted this looks just as inviting. Loving your work 🙂

  • Reply
    September 16, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Hi Emma

    Another delicious recipe.

    Thank you



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