When creating recipes, I keep in mind a few key points for what my dishes should be: flavorful, healthful, new, accessible. I don’t always hit all of these points – sometimes it’s easier to make a meal that feels very unique and fresh, but doesn’t score high on the accessibility scale, or often a dish won’t feel very new if it contains common ingredients and is simple in preparation.
But from time to time, I manage to come up with a recipe that can be described by all those adjectives, and this Warm Cauliflower, Grape and Black Rice Salad is one of them.
With the exception of Concord and Muscadine grapes, which have a relatively short season in the late summer and early fall, I rarely use table grapes in my cooking due to their overwhelming sweetness. This salad is the best home for very sweet grapes – they will provide a delicious contrast to the subtle spiciness of the dressing, the earthy roasted cauliflower and textural black rice. I’ve probably made this dish five times in the past two weeks, yet it disappears so quickly that I can never catch a good portion for myself.
Besides the very tasty combination of flavors and textures, this salad is strikingly beautiful and could make an excellent addition to your holiday table. To make it even more festive, sprinkle with some fresh pomegranate seeds.
Lastly, thank you for all of your expressed interest in the Abruzzo retreats.
Warm Salad of Roasted Cauliflower, Grapes and Black Rice
for the salad
1 cup black forbidden rice (I use this brand)
1 cauliflower head – cut into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove – minced
1 teaspoon cumin – preferably freshly ground
2 cups seedless grapes – cut into quarters (optionally, use a variety of grapes)
1 small chili pepper – seeded and minced (optional)
bunch cilantro leaves
for the dressing
1 tablespoon sesame tahini
1 tablespoon unpasteurized miso paste
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sriracha
to make the dressing
Mix together tahini and miso paste in a small bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir into a smooth dressing.
to cook rice
Bring 1 cup of black rice, 1 3/4 cup of water and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
to roast cauliflower
Preheat oven to 400 F. Drizzle cauliflower florets with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic and cumin and mix to coat using your hands. Arrange in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes or until soft, rotating the tray half way through and turning florets if you wish.
to make the salad
Combine rice, cauliflower, grapes, chili and cilantro leaves in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat. Serve immediately, so that the cauliflower and rice are still warm.
It tastes great cold as well and keeps well covered and refrigerated for at least 3 days.