This salad is an unashamed plagiarism from a recently acquired cookbook, ‘Persiana’ by Sabrina Ghayour. Packed full of mouth-watering photos of exotic dishes, it’s a firm favourite. Many recipes feature ingredients that I already (somewhat smugly) own, such as sumac. The book is littered with recipes that I have already made more than once, which is rare – I consider a cookbook a success if I make one recipe from it.
I am normally somewhat underwhelmed by rice salads, and almost flicked straight past this one when browsing through the book. However, given that I have a nearly empty box of red rice lurking at the back of my cupboard, I decided to give it a go. It’s safe to say that I needed to seriously reevaluate my view on the matter after making this salad. The balance of sweet and salty is just right, and the colours and textures compliment each other beautifully. There is also a pleasing balance of warm and cold ingredients – chargrilled vegetables and toasted nuts with cold rice and onions – which works well.
Owning more than one type of rice may sound extravagant (at last count I have 3), but red rice is definitely worth tracking down for this recipe. It has a pleasant nutty taste, and retains its attractive maroon colour, even when cooked. It does take a rather long time to cook though, which I always forget, and am left tapping my fork impatiently against the side of the pan, willing it to cook faster. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it, as Sainsbury’s stocks it, proving once and for all that they’re paying attention to the latest hipster food trends. Red rice is staying firmly on my (somewhat hipster) shopping list from now on.
Recipe from ‘Persiana’ by Sabrina Ghayour (quantities adapted).
100g red rice
1 handful dried cranberries
1 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tsp runny honey
Juice of ½ orange
2 tsp white wine vinegar
½ courgette, sliced
½ aubergine, cut into 1cm round slices
2 chargrilled red peppers in oil, sliced
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
50g blanched whole almonds, lightly toasted
Cook the rice in plenty of boiling water until tender, about 25 mins. Drain and rinse well in cold water. Put the rice, cranberries and onion in a large bowl and add the vinegar, enough oil to coat the rice well, and some salt and pepper. Preheat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Brush the courgette and aubergine with olive oil, and grill for 4 minutes on each side, pressing each slice down so that black griddle lines appear on each side.