Black Rice Risotto
Black rice is also called purple rice and forbidden rice. It deserves all the evocative aliases it goes by. Deep in color and flavor, with an appealing bite and nutty notes. It turns a dish into something not only delicious but intriguing and beautiful. Black rice is fantastic enough in desserts too, in fact I am working on a fun and delicious black rice dessert. Thankfully, black rice has recently become more affordable, and is making more frequent appearances on many tables.
In my black rice risotto recipe, I am taking some poetic license with the word risotto: it is not strictly speaking a risotto, where you add liquids to the rice in steady increments as the previous addition gets absorbed. Still my black rice dish here share a valuable feature with the classic risotto: It is an all-integrated rice-vegetable dish, a meal onto itself. It also includes saffron, a staple in risotto dishes.
Kale is Cool
Who knew kale could be so delicious, in addition to being so nutritious?
Read this link on Kale, from wellbeingsecrets.com, which gives you the whole scoop on kale, complete with delicious kale-based, dishes, three of them mine!
King Oyster Mushrooms
They are really are king: King of Umami.
They are thick and meaty, and reasonably expensive; you will swear you are eating a steak (and yes, they are still cheaper than steak!) Their stem is a little over 2 inches in diameter, about 4-5 inches long. Anytime you have a yen for a meaty taste when making a vegetarian dish, slice them a little under 1 inch thick (or split them through their whole length) and saute them in a little olive oil, searing them on each side. There are so many exciting ways to use them: by themselves, as is or with your favorite sauce, in salads, soups, pasta or rice dishes: Your dish will be taken to another level in no time and with minimal labor.
Riffs on Black Rice Risotto
I am sharing my black rice risotto just as I made it, but there is much room for adaptations and variations, just as long as the King Oyster Mushrooms are there. But you could skip the butternut squash for example, or replace it with tiny halved Brussels Sprouts; you could replace sliced kale leaves with sliced Swiss chard leaves; you could throw in a cup of sake or other dry white wine for an added kick, and so on.
- 4 cups water (or 3 cups water and 1 cup sake or dry white wine)
- 2 good pinches saffron threads
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups Black Rice
- 1/3 cup olive oil, divided, a drop more if needed
- 6 King Oyster Mushrooms (about a pound), thickly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- Large bunch kale, leaves only (reserve the stems for soup), sliced in ribbons
- 2-3 cups butternut squash cubes (peel and cube it yourself, or buy it ready cubed)
- 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (or 2-3 sprigs any nice fresh herbs you might find, leaves only: Thyme, rosemary, tarragon etc)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup water
Bring the water to boil in a wide bottom pot, then add all the ingredients in the first set of ingredients listed. Cover and cook about 30 minutes, or a little longer, until the rice is tender but still has a bite, and most of the liquids are absorbed but still look creamy.
Meanwhile, heat some of the olive oil in a large bottom skillet. Add the mushroom sliced, cut side down, and saute, about 1 minute on each side. add the garlic and stir quickly, until just fragrant. Add the kale and saute 2-3 minutes more. Add the squash, spices and water, and cover. Cook on a medium flame just a few minutes, until most of the liquids are absorbed and the squash is tender.
When the rice is ready, stir in the vegetable mixture, and adjust the seasonings.
This black Rice Risotto reheats very well, and freezes very well