Black Rice & Purple Brussels Sprout Salad

Guys - check out these gorgeous PURPLE Brussels sprouts! Seriously, are these not stunning?? Yes. They are. This is partly because we aren't accustomed to seeing Brussels sprouts in this color and anytime we see food in a color that is unusual, we are immediately drawn to it, and partly because... you know, PURPLE! No explanation required.

As a nutritionist, I immediately catalogue these under, "High in anthocyanins. Eat this!" As a chef, I'm already envisioning pairings and techniques that will best showcase that beautiful color. As an organic grower, I'm making a mental note to find the seeds so I can grow them.

[Not sure what anthocyanins are? Click here for the short answer or here for the long answer <<< You're going to want to read the longer answer... pretty cool stuff!]

These Brussel sprouts are smaller and more dense than most green varieties, but the flavor is similar. The million dollar question though?? Will these Brussels sprouts retain that vivid color when cooked? Unfortunately, not so much. The more heat applied, the greater the change in color.

A raw slaw is a great solution, but some people find cruciferous vegetables difficult to digest raw. My solution? A brief three minute steam. Check it out...

A light steam softened the Brussels sprouts just enough, but they're still al dente. The color changed minimally, from deep purple to purple/magenta. To contrast the firmness (and add even more anthocyanins), I've paired them with black rice - it's more of a deep purple and sometimes called Forbidden rice or Emperor's rice. Black rice contains more protein, fiber and iron than most other rice and contains even more anthocyanins than blueberries. A lot of new research has been published about the possible health benefits of black rice. To date, not many human clinical trials exists, but the connection between black rice consumption and reduction in known risk factors for heart disease, benefits in diabetes and breast cancer cell reduction look promising. You can read more HERE.

I also added some mild raw shallots (for flavor & valuable antioxidants), chopped dried apricots (for color and sweetness), toasted pistachios (for color, crunch, healthy fats, vitamins & minerals), a bit of fresh thyme and I used my Lemony Garlic Dressing. I love the chewy, sticky nuttiness of the black rice!

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Let's get started!

Total Time: 50 minutes, plus 2 hours to soak cashew for the dressing Prep Time: 15-20 minutes Cook Time: 50 minutes PRINT HERE.

Here's what you need for 4 servings:

For the RICE:

1 cup black rice (yields 3 cups of cooked rice)

1.5 cups water

1/2 tsp ground coriander (optional)

1/4 tsp ground allspice (optional)

For the SALAD:

1 lb Brussel sprouts (purple or green)

2 medium shallots (1/2 cup thinly sliced)

1/2 cup dried apricots (diced small)

1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, leaves removed from tougher stems, roughly chopped

For the Lemony Garlic DRESSING: (to see the photos of the dressing, click HERE)

1/2 cup cashews, plain, unroasted

2 Tbsp tahini

zest from 4 lemons (~ 1/4 cup, packed)

juice from 2 lemons (~ 1/4 cup), plus flesh from 1 lemon

3 Tbsp fortified nutritional yeast*

2 large cloves garlic

3 Medjool dates, soaked in 1/4 cup HOT water

1/4 cup white wine or Champaign vinegar

1/4 cup water (or more depending on desired consistency)

1/2 tsp smoked salt or regular sea salt

1/2 tsp cumin, ground

4 cardamom pods or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

*Fortified nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Not all brands of nutritional yeast are fortified, so check the label carefully. Nutritional yeast also lends some body and flavor to this dressing but is not absolutely necessary.

The Process:

To make the DRESSING (this can be done up to five days in advance):

1. Place cashews in a bowl and pour enough HOT water over them to cover by 1/2". Set aside for two hours, occasionally stirring to submerge those floating on the surface.

2. Zest 4 lemons and juice two of them into a small bowl. Remove any seeds. Peel one of the zested lemons with a sharp paring knife. Remove as much of the white pith as possible. Slice this lemon into 1/4" rings and remove all seeds. Add these to the bowl with the lemon zest and juice. Cover and put them in the freezer while waiting for the cashews to soak. This accomplishes two things. It keeps your blender from overheating the contents while pureeing and it allows the finished dressing to be cooler so you can use it right away, if needed.

3. Remove the seeds from the dates, place in a small bowl and pour 1/4 cup HOT water over them. Set aside.

4. Keep the vinegar, water, tahini and garlic cloves cold until needed.

5. Add the partially frozen lemon chunks, zest, and juice, the soaked and drained cashews, the dates AND their soaking liquid, the nutritional yeast, garlic, tahini, vinegar, water and spices to your high-speed blender. Blend until completely smooth, scraping down sides if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Dressing should be slightly thick, creamy and pourable. Thin with additional water or more vinegar if necessary. Refrigerate until needed (can be stored up to 1 week).

To make the RICE:

1. Rinse the rice under cold running water for several minutes. Place in a heavy-bottomed pan, add water and seasonings (if using). Bring to a boil over med/high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 35-40 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

2. Remove from heat, allow to stand, covered for 10 minutes.

To make the SALAD:

1. While rice is cooking, heat a small skillet over med/low heat. Toss the pistachios into the skillet and cook until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool, then roughly chop.

2. Fill a pot with a steam basket with an inch of water. Cove, bring to a simmer over medium/high.

3 Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and wash in cold water. Using a chef's knife or food processor, thinly slice.

4. Add the Brussels sprouts to the steam basked, return the lid, reduce heat to med/low. Steam for three minutes... no more! Remove from heat, uncover and allow to cool for several minutes (I spread them out on a baking sheet to cool. Using an ice bath to stop the cooking process is an option, but then they would need to be dried before continuing. With only a three-minute steam, this step is unnecessary).

5. While the Brussel sprouts are cooling, dice the apricots and thinly slice the shallots.

6. Place the steamed Brussels sprouts in a medium/large bowl. Add the apricots, shallots, thyme and 1/2 cup of the dressing. Toss gently to coat.

To assemble:

For a more composed presentation, spoon about 3/4 cup of the rice around the border of individual plates, fill the center with the salad mixture and top with 2 Tbsp of the toasted pistachios. Alternatively, toss the salad and rice together and then top with the pistachios.

Nutrition information is for 3/4 cup of rice, 1 cup of the salad and 2 Tbsp of the dressing.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear how you and your guests liked it! Snap a photo and tag me too, #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!

DISCLOSURES: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products I use and trust.

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