Black Rice Salad with Cranberries is a stunning, vegan spring dish that’s packed with gorgeous colors and healthy ingredients. Black rice, also known as The Forbidden Rice, has a rich history and a delicious earthy flavor. Sometimes selecting different foods to put together in a recipe, is like selecting different paint colors to put together in a house.
If you’re not sure what I mean, follow my thought process in creating this recipe.
Inspiration for Black Rice Salad with Cranberries
First, I was in Trader Joe’s (not shopping for rice), when a bag of black rice caught my eye. Then, knowing this black rice usually turns a deep purple when cooked, I immediately imagined how cool it would look against the bright green asparagus I’d picked up earlier at the Farmer’s Market.
So I added it to my basket. Next, I knew it needed orange. I went to grab carrots and to my delight, they had bags of carrots in a variety of colors. The purple ones are so cool because they’re golden-orange on the inside!
I carried on, as if I were painting in my mind. I wanted some strokes of red and remembered I had dried cranberries at home. Perfect. Finally, when I got home and saw my bowl of lemons, I knew the yellow was just the color I needed to brighten the big picture, if you will.
Do you ever stop and simply admire the beauty of the ingredients you’re cooking with? I do it all the time.
What is black rice?
- In ancient China black rice was consumed by a host of Chinese kinsmen for kidney, stomach and liver health. Then a handful of noble Chinese men took possession of every grain, keeping it from the public. It became property for royalty and the wealthy. It continued to be cultivated but only for the elite classes, in limited quantities. Commoners were prohibited from growing or consuming black rice, and since then it earned its much renowned label, “The Forbidden Rice.”
- Black rice is has a deep, dark color, which is really a purplish black. This color comes from anthocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant. This is one of a few factors that make black rice a very healthy choice.
- Black rice is tricky to grow in terms of yield, and only produces about 10% percent of the harvest that other rice varieties do.
What does black rice taste like?
- Black rice has a subtly earthy and nutty flavor.
- The favor is similar to a strong brown rice, but the texture is closer to that of white rice.
The day I made this, I was excited to see that my friend Gerry of Foodness Gracious had a similar response to seeing the black rice on the Trader Joe’s shelf.
Check out his beautiful recipe for Moroccan Black Rice Salad with Burrata Cheese.
Enjoy every bite of this beautiful and delicious Asparagus Black Rice Salad with Cranberries!
Black Rice Salad with Cranberries
For the dressing
- 1½ tablespoons lemon zest from about 3 small lemons
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice from about 3 small lemons
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the dressing
- In a small bowl, mix the lemon zest with the lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Then gradually whisk in the oil and set aside.
For the salad
- Place two medium-sized bowls with ice water on your work space. Cut the bottom few inches (the tough portion), off of the asparagus and discard. Then rinse and peel them from just below the floret, using a vegetable peeler.
- Place a steamer in a pot with the water level just below it. Over high heat, bring the water to a boil and then add the asparagus to the rack and cover. Steam just until tender, about 5 minutes. Immediately add the steamed asparagus to one of the bowls of ice water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then remove, dry, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Peel the carrots and trim the ends. Then cut them into bite-sized pieces. Using the same steamer pot, over high heat, bring the water to a boil and then add the carrots and cover. Steam just until tender, about 8 minutes. Now immediately add the steamed carrots to the other bowl of ice water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Remove, dry and set aside.
- Making sure the cooked black rice is room temperature or cooler, add it to a large mixing bowl. Add the onion and drizzle almost all of the dressing over it and mix until the rice and onion are well coated.
- Very gently fold in the onion, steamed asparagus and carrots and cranberries, and drizzle the remaining dressing on top.
- Refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
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