Mary Anne here. The inspiration for this recipe was two-fold. Last spring Mariel worked on a similar salad starring black rice (which at the time I had never heard of) and a couple of veggies, including sweet potato. I remember she talked about her experiment briefly…something about how delicious it was but only on the day-of assembly because it simply didn’t hold up overnight in the fridge.
Anyway, the idea of black rice intrigued me and this recipe probably percolated in my brain for a full four months. I worked from my beloved Wild Rice Salad, which has always saved terrifically well, and I played around with incorporating a new assortment of vegetables and nuts. Beets and Montrachet are such natural bedfellows and the pistachios lurking in my freezer practically screamed to sit atop that holy duo. Borrowed from the aforementioned Wild Rice creation, I tossed in a handful of currants to sweeten the pot and some scallions to provide a friendly green bite.
The challenge was keeping the nutty crunch of the rice intact while creating a dish I could enjoy for several meals. I refrained from dressing the entire batch and instead assembled my already-prepared components for individual salads on the days I intended to enjoy a plateful. The segregated vegetables and rice all held up beautifully and I savored this salad over the course of 8 days!
The unexpected bonus to my experiment was discovering that black rice is far less expensive than wild rice since the bag (entire cost included below) is enough to make this recipe twice. Additionally, this healthful treat is incredibly versatile as either a side dish or the main event. I served my rice salad over a bed of super greens, making it an incredibly satisfying entrée for either lunch or a light supper.
Black Rice Salad with Roasted Beets and Montrachet/Chevre Cheese
Note: I wrote this recipe as though the reader plans to enjoy the salad over the course of several days. Obviously, if you are planning on dining with friends and family, all of the assembly is done at once, separating any leftovers as directed…if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, that is!
1 cup black rice, cooked according to package directions and set aside – $3.99
1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion, diced – $0.76
½ lb. Baby Bella or other wild mushrooms, chopped – $1.99
2 cloves garlic, minced – stock
1 or 2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
a splash of cooking sherry or wine – stock
4 cooked beets, quartered – $1.49
1/3 cup currants – stock
3 scallions, diced, including green part – $0.99
4 oz. Montrachet/Chevre cheese, cut into 4 discs – $3.99
1/3 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios…whatever is on hand) – stock
your favorite vinaigrette – stock
mixed greens, if desired
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $13.21
Total Per Serving: $3.30
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame. Sauté the onions and mushrooms together, stirring frequently, until golden and beginning to caramelize.
2. Stir in the garlic and splash of cooking sherry/wine and continue cooking until the sherry has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small-medium bowl.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining vegetables, nuts, and cheese as directed above. Transfer each to separate containers if preparing ahead.
4. Assembly: To serve to a group, in a medium bowl, combine the rice with the mushroom mixture, scallions, and currants. Lightly toss with your favorite vinaigrette.
5. Divide the quartered beets between the 4 plates, arranging in a decorative manner. Top the crown of the salad or the beet pieces with the cheese disc and garnish with chopped nuts. Serve at room temperature. (Remember to serve on a bed of greens if this is the main event!)