When I'm working from home, hearty salads are a lunch staple. I don't often allow myself enough time to make a full meal with meat or fish, but I also find cold sandwiches to get old and repetitive. What solves that old and repetitive problem? A colorful, fragrant, seasonal grain salad.
Back in the Bay Area, there was a little corner grocery store in Oakland that would make this very simple black rice salad with chopped green onion and whatever colorful, seasonal produce was available. I decided it was about time I tried to replicate that salad using produce I can't seem to get enough of right now: grapefruit and avocado.
If you've never tried black rice (often referred to as forbidden rice or Japonica black rice), it has a pleasant chewiness that makes for a most satisfying salad. It also has a subtle sweetness, so pairing it with a more bitter citrus like grapefruit and a creamy avocado results in the perfect flavor combination.
The citrus dressing is mild and cuts the bite of the bitter grapefruit. I actually use it lately on all leafy salads, so if you like it make a little jar to keep it in the refrigerator. I have to say, I've had this salad two days in a row now and made a black rice salad convert out of a skeptical boyfriend ("it's refreshing!"). Vegetarian or not, this is an easy one to add to your repertoire.
Black Rice Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit
Serves 4 as a side portion
1 cup black rice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 grapefruit, peeled and quartered and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (see how to segment a grapefruit here)
1 avocado, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse the rice and drain in a fine-mesh strainer. In a small saucepan with a lid, add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the 1 3/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the drained rice to the boiling water and bring back to a full boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 40 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Let the rice sit, covered, for 10 minutes, and then uncover and allow it to come to room temperature (as this is a cold salad).
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, orange juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and rice wine vinegar until fully combined.
Put together the salad: Once the rice is cooled, transfer it to a medium-size bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the grapefruit, avocado and green onion and toss a few times to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to two days.
Related: Sweet and Savory Wild Rice Salad
(Images: Megan Gordon)