Black Rice Salad

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Our biblestudy group gathered last Monday to celebrate the Passover. A meal rich with symbolism for Jews and Christians alike, it was a lovely time of slowing down and hallowing a moment, a memory. The lamb slain to spare the son, bitter herbs and bread eaten in a hurry because freedom was in the air. The Passover is a story of desperation and death, liberation and life.

As ours was a merging of Jewish and Christian stories and traditions, we didn’t follow either the Exodus menu or modern Jewish dictates strictly. Our host asked for a non-green salad and we had black rice in the cupboard and so this salad was born. Feel free to vary ingredients to suit your tastes – I was quite pleased with the overall effect though!

225g black rice
1 1/2 large kumera
1 large egg plant
a little olive oil and some salt
1/2 bunch of watercress
1 big handful of baby spinach leaves
1 big handful of mixed lettuce leaves
2 spring onions
1 bunch of broccolini
1 bunch of asparagus
1 handful of parsley

Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2-1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic

Method:
1. Cook the black rice as per the instructions on the packet or using a rice cooker (I used the ‘brown rice’ setting which worked quite well).
2. Chop the kumera into rough 2-3cm cubes, toss in olive oil and lay out on a baking-paper-lined-tray, bake at  200oC for 25-35 mins or till golden brown. Allow to cool.
3. Slice the eggplant and layout on another baking-paper-lined-tray, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 15-20mins (allowing the water to begin being drawn out). Bake at 200oC for 20-30 minutes, or till soft with golden edges. Allow to cool.
4. Snap the ends off the asparagus (holding the base, ‘snap’ it off, this means that the tough bottom part of the stem will be removed, the rest of the stem is more tender, and nicer to eat) and chop off the base of the broccolini and slice each ‘branch’ into three portions. Steam both till tender. Refrigerate to cool the vegetables quickly.
5. Chop the watercress and toss with the spinach and lettuce.
6. Finely chop the spring onion (or shallots) and parsley.
7. Assemble the salad; layer the tossed leaves with cooled rice, potato and eggplant, asparagus and broccolini. Top with shallots and parsley.
8. Make the dressing by mixing all ingredients together; altering the seasoning to taste. Dress just before serving.

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