I’ve recently discovered Himalayan Red Rice in the bulk bins at my local Whole Foods. I bought a little bit to try a couple of months ago and loved it – it has a chewy texture and nutty flavor that reminds me a lot of wild rice. And even after cooking it retains a deep rust color that looks beautiful when served. It’s only minimally processed so it’s at least as healthy as brown rice but with a better flavor and texture (at least according to my taste). I’ve used it on its own and in salads. And it’s relatively inexpensive – just $1.59 per pound in the bulk bins where I bought it.
Last week I ran across a recipe for Black Rice and Red Lentil Salad, in the New York Times “Recipes for Health” Column (which is a great source for nutritious recipes). It was part of a series of make-ahead recipes that looked really good. In my first attempt at this salad, I used red rice instead of black rice, but otherwise stuck pretty close to the printed recipe. I liked the main ingredients (rice, small split red lentils – soaked but not cooked, which was a new twist for me, and edamame), but wasn’t very happy with the dressing. It seemed to overwhelm the main ingredients and so I wanted to try something a little different.
When I made the salad today, I increased the amount of lentils (and instead of soaking them in cold water, I poured boiling water over them and then let them soak for several hours covered) and also used more edamame than called for in the original recipe. For the dressing, I stuck with Asian flavors (rice vinegar, soy and ginger), but skipped the sesame oil and added orange juice, honey, and sriracha chili sauce. I was shooting for a sweet, spicy dressing which wound up nicely complementing the other flavors.
This is not a fast recipe – the rice takes almost an hour to cook and the lentils have to soak for several hours. But the active time is minimal. The finished salad will keep for four or five days in the fridge.
For the lentils, combine in a small bowl:
- 1 cup small split red lentils
- Boiling water to cover the lentils by one or two inches
Cover with foil and allow to sit for 3-4 hours. Drain and set aside until ready to combine with the other ingredients.
For the rice, bring to a boil in a small saucepan:
- 1.25 cups water
- 1/2 cup red rice
- 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Once boiling, reduce heat to low simmer and cover. Cook undisturbed for 50-60 minutes. (If you have short-grained red rice the cooking time will be considerably reduced – maybe 20-30 minutes total) When all of the liquid has been absorbed, take off the heat and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before placing in a large bowl. Stir in the soaked and drained lentils.
Meanwhile, bring 4-5 cups of salted water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of frozen edamame. When the water returns to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold water and allow the edamame to drain well before stirring into the rice and lentils.
For the dressing whisk together in a small bowl:
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 2 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. grated or finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (I used reduced sodium soy sauce)
- 1/2 tsp. sriracha chili sauce or other hot sauce (or to taste)
Pour the dressing over the rice mixture and stir well. The salad can be served right away at room temperature, although I think the flavor improves if it’s refrigerated for at least several hours before serving.