Wednesday, June 13, 2012


There is a sense of mystery about something forbidden...and a challenge, too. I felt that way upon discovering black forbidden rice, a gorgeous black rice with a nutty flavor similar to wild rice. The mystery is how to use this lovely grain to best advantage...and that was the challenge, too.

A salad or room temperature dish seemed like a good idea so I trolled the Internet and found something close to what I wanted with a Black Forbidden Rice with Sugar Snap Peas and Nectarine dish by Giada De Laurentiis. It can be served warm or at room temperature, it has a slightly Asian feeling with fresh ginger and soy sauce and the combination of fruits and vegetables is interesting, too. As usual I had some ideas on how to change the recipe to make it my own.

My version keeps the ginger and the soy sauce, but I add a strong orange note with both orange zest and juice in the dressing. I find that citrus adds a sparkle to both rice and bean dishes. I was out of nectarines, but had just purchased fresh red cherries so I used them.
Cherries and oranges are also a great combination. For a bit of crunch I added celery and some green onions for their fresh green taste.

I had thought that such a good dose of fresh ginger would leave a strong ginger taste in the rice but during the cooking process the ginger is muted and the flavor of the rice shines with just a hint of ginger in the background. I didn't use any hot sauce or other additional heat but after tasting this rice dish I think that you could add a little fresh minced ginger to the dressing or a dash of cayenne if you like your food a bit spicier than I do and it would be a great addition.

By the time I served this dish, the rice was lukewarm. The warm cherry mixture was perfect with the slightly cooler rice and the dressing added just the right mixture of salty and sweet. Sweetie took two helping, so I suspect that this will be a hit with your family, too. If you wish to dress this beautiful rice dish up, you could sprinkle some toasted sliced almonds over it when you are ready to serve it.
Black Forbidden Rice with Cherries

based on a recipe of Giada De Laurentiis'

Serves 4-6

3 1/2 cups water
2 cups black forbidden rice
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 green onion, sliced, white part only
6 oz fresh cherries, pitted and halved

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

For the rice: In a medium saucepan, bring the water, rice, ginger, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and place in a large serving bowl.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the celery and green onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add the cherry halves and sauté for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the serving bowl with the cooked rice.

For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, oil, honey, orange juice, soy sauce and orange zest until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the rice and cherry mixture and toss gently to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. Wow - so is that a side, or a main? What does one eat with cherries and rice? It reminds me of a Persian dish; rice with raisins and apricots...

  2. We used it as a main dish by adding some small cubes of left over pork, but I the rest later as is without the meat and it was great that way, too. It is a bit of a sweet/savory combination.I think it would also be great with some garbanzo beans stirred in as a main dish, served with some chard or kale that was cooked with onions.

  3. Looks so mysterious and exciting, you don't see much black food. I've never seen black rice, I'll have to look out for it.

    Bet this would make a great cold salad with the cherries

  4. I love savoury sweet combinations; this one is quite daring with the cherries!
    Never heard of forbidden rice, is there much flavor difference with the wild rice? Hmm I'm going to look it up.

  5. Sounds quite interesting! I'm wondering if avocado and feta would go in there....

  6. Katie, I found mine at a natural food store. It does taste great cold.

    Baking Soda,it's just a bit different than wild rice with a slightly softer texture and a little less nutty.

    David, I think the addition of feta and avacado would work well, especially the saltiness of the feta against the sweet tang of orange and cherry sweetness. The rice helps tie the flavors together and almost anything goes well with avocados. Glad you can eat lots of them now!

  7. Sounds very intriguing.