Forbidden Black Rice with Roasted Squash, Garlic and Kale
October 27, 2013
It may look a bit creepy, but isn’t that what Halloween is all about? I don’t have little goblins running around anymore to make spooky treats, but I still love to play up Halloween in classy, tasteful decorating and in my meals, along with pumpkin in just about everything!
Black rice is also called Forbidden Rice, due to the fact that is was considered the finest grain and only served to the Emperor in ancient China for increased health and longevity and therefore, off limits to the general public. Black rice is considered a super food having healthful antioxidants equal to blueberries. The taste is slightly nutty, soft and sticky reminding me of risotto.
In playing around with various uses, there is one little thing to note….the liquid will turn black so be cautious! My friend Susan thought she would put the rice in her soup, and unless you find a black broth appealing, I’d find another way to use it! Pretty much using it as a side, as in this recipe, or pared with dried fruits and nuts as in a pilaf. I’m also testing it out as a black rice pudding, as I thought it might make for a sexy New Year’s Eve dessert.
For this Halloween meal I decided to add in roasted pumpkin (surprised?), roasted garlic to ward off the vampires and kale to add an eerie green crunch to this black, forbidden dish. Great on its own or pared with roasted pork, chicken or prawns.
1 small pumpkin or butternut or acorn squash, diced
1/2 cup garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups kale, coarsely chopped, stems removed and discarded
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Combine the diced squash and garlic cloves on a large baking sheet lined with Slipat or parchment paper. Drizzle on olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 30-35 minutes, turning once until soft and lightly browned. On a separate baking sheet, drizzle the kale with olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper and roast for about 5-10 minutes, being careful to not burn the kale. To avoid have two pans to clean, I have added the seasoned kale to the roasting squash and garlic pan to finish roasting all together.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in the butter till soft. Stir in the black rice and sauté for just a few minutes. Add in the water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes; some types of black rice need to be cooked longer. The rice should be soft, creamy but not mushy. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.
Gently add the roasted squash, garlic and kale to the rice, season to taste, plate and serve immediately or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.