I don't want to scare you, but I am having a love-in with brown rice at the moment. In the weekend I made an amazing salad with brown rice, red onion, fiery orange pumpkin, virulent green spinach and orange, err, oranges. It was packed with flavour and surprisingly light to eat, plus it made for several excellent work lunches. Soon I will be eschewing fossil fuels and running away to live in a commune. Want to join me?
Roasted pumpkin, orange and brown rice
This looks more complicated than it is. The hardest part is usually breaking open the pumpkin - but I take care of that by going outside, lifting the pumpkin above my head and then smashing it down onto the concrete. It's surprisingly therapeutic.
The pumpkin roasts in the oven while the rice cooks on the stovetop, then you can potter around and make the dressing at your leisure. Don't try making this with white rice, it won't be the same. But you could give it a go with red quinoa or amaranth for extra health bonus points.
300g brown rice, rinsed in running water until it runs clear
450ml cold water
600g peeled and de-seeded pumpkin, chopped into 2cm cubes (about 800g with the skin and seeds still intact)
1 red onion, peeled and diced, put into a bowl and sprinkled with 60ml rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
3 handfuls baby spinach or rocket
100g whole almonds, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
2 lovely oranges, peeled, depipped and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
A good pinch of flaky sea salt
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
juice of one orange
½ tsp honey
Deal to the pumpkin first. Preheat the oven to 200C and grease an oven dish with a tablespoon of olive oil. Tip in the pumpkin and drizzle with another tablespoon of oil. Bake for around 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is cooked and beginning to crisp up. Set aside.
Put the well-washed rice and water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. Let simmer for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat (DO NOT lift the lid) and let sit for 15 minutes. The rice should be perfectly cooked and all the water absorbed.
Next, make the dressing. Crush the garlic and salt together with the blade of a knife, then scrape into a screw top jar. Add the honey, juice and vinegar and shake well. Add the oil and shake again until well mixed. Taste for balance and adjust accordingly.
When the rice and pumpkin have cooled down a little, tip both into a serving bowl, Pour about half the dressing over the top and toss through gently. Drain the onion, then add to the rice with the oranges and spinach. Pour over the remaining dressing and toss gently. Sprinkle the almonds on top.
Best served at room temperature. This makes an excellent packed lunch or serve it alongside a piece of fish with some greens. Makes enough for four lunches or six to eight side dish servings.
What's your favourite thing to do with brown rice?