Asparagus, Black Rice & Red Walnut Salad
Don't you just love it when you can combine some of your favorite home-made condiments into one spectacularly DELICIOUS dish that ends up LOOKING as fantastic as it tastes?
Awesome! Me too... and now I get to share this one with you!
The genesis for this dish began when I started considering ways to include a greater variety of deeply colored whole foods, seasonal produce, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and use up some of the condiments in my fridge, including Lacto-Fermented Red Onions and Lemony Garlic Dressing.
Local asparagus. A great starting point! To learn more about what makes asparagus unique (and be inspired by another GREAT salad) read HERE.
My favorite way to eat asparagus (if not fresh out of the field) is lightly grilled. This salad is delicious warm, at room temperature or cold, so you can grill the asparagus ahead of time if you'd like.
Red Walnuts. The red walnut is fairly new to the market. It is the result of cross-breeding and tastes like the English walnut but a bit creamier and less bitter. [Not everyone finds walnuts bitter, and not everyone thinks cilantro tastes like soap. I'm sure there is a gene responsible, but I haven't discovered it yet.] You can read more about them HERE, and the health benefits of walnuts in general HERE.
The ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity -a lab technique used to quantify the total antioxidant capacity of a food) has not yet been tested for red walnuts. It is expected they will prove to be the highest antioxidant nut available.
Black Rice (also called Forbidden rice). Black rice contains the highest amount of anthocyanins (the polyphenol phytochemicals responsible for the deep purple hue) than any other type of rice. You can read more about anthocyanins HERE and about the nutrient profile of black rice HERE. 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.
Fermented Veg. Lacto-fermented vegetables contribute acidity, probiotics, color, and another layer of flavor. These are my Lacto-Fermented Red Onions, but pickled onions, radishes, carrots, sauerkraut or kimchi would work just as well.
The Dressing. I used the last of my Lemony Garlic Dressing to pull this dish together. This dressing is made from soaked cashews, dates, lemons, garlic, tahini, nutritional yeast, vinegar and spices and can be quickly blitzed in any blender. It contains no dairy, added oil or sugar... but plenty of FLAVOR! Or use your favorite vinaigrette or dressing of choice.
Total Time: 45 min. Prep Time: 10 min. Cooking Time: 5 min. to grill asparagus, 35 min. to cook rice
Here's what you'll need for 4 servings: PRINT HERE
2 cups cooked black rice
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1/2 cup Lacto-Fermented Red Onions or pickled red onions
1/3 cup red walnuts (or regular English walnuts), lightly toasted if desired
1/2 cup Lemony Garlic Dressing or dressing of choice
1-2 Tbsps fresh herbs (optional): rosemary, thyme, parsley, tarragon, basil or oregano would all work well
Salt & black pepper, to taste
1 tsp olive oil (optional)
1. Cook rice according to package directions; allow to cool.
2. While rice is cooking, wash & trim asparagus. Drizzle with the olive oil, black pepper and dash of salt. Grill or sauté 3-4 minutes, until bright green on both sides. Cut into 1-2" pieces. Set aside.
3. Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes or until fragrant. When cool enough, roughly chop. Set aside.
4. Finely chop the fresh herbs (if using).
5. Once rice has cooled, fluff with a fork and add the dressing. Stir to fully combine. The warmer the rice, the more dressing it will absorb, so cool it to room temperature (or cooler).
6. To assemble, arrange the dressed rice onto a serving dish (or individual dishes), top with asparagus pieces, fermented or pickled onions, toasted walnut and chopped herbs. Serve with additional dressing tableside, if desired.
Here are some alternatives to try:
~ Use a different whole grain: kamut, quinoa, emmer wheat, spelt berries, burgundy rice, hulled barley or buckwheat would all work nicely.
~ Use fresh green beans, broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, or baby courgette instead of asparagus.
Nutrition information is for 1/2 cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup asparagus, 1/4 cup red onions, 1 heaping Tbsp of walnuts and 2 Tbsp dressing.
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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