I’ve been making this salad for years ever since I first cut out the recipe from the Sunday Life magazine. It’s a Karen Martini recipe and what I like best about it is the way she treats brown rice, in such a star-studded way. There is nothing faintly hippyish, dour or self-consciously wholesome about this salad. Packed with pine nuts, currants and caramelised onions, it is gloriously rich and luxurious – not your typical brown rice treatment at all. In fact, if this salad was made with white rice, it would kind of sink beneath the riot of rich flavours. It needs the nutty substantiality of brown rice to make it all work.
While I came across this recipe in the Sunday Life magazine, I have noticed it has been published in a couple of Karen Martini’s cookbooks since, attesting to its perennial popularity I would think. It is a great party salad, particularly after the Christmas festive season, when the wholesomeness of the brown rice gives it a grounding effect after the season of excess. This recipe makes quite a lot of salad, so it can feed a bit of a crowd but if there is any left over, it makes great lunch fare the next day. Although I like brown rice, I tend to use jasmine or basmati rice as my everyday rice. If I am eating brown rice, I prefer to eat it quite plain in the macrobiotic way, with a few simple toppings. This salad is one of those glorious exceptions to my ‘brown rice’ rule. If you are a brown rice skeptic, or have been scarred by eating undercooked brown rice, try this salad and you just may be converted.
Brown rice, mint and pine nut salad with currants and caramelised onion
Adapted from Karen Martini Cooking at Home
- 2 cups of brown rice.
- 125 mls of olive oil.
- 3 brown onions, halved and sliced.
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- 150 grams of currants, just covered with red wine vinegar, simmered for 3 minutes until the liquid has almost evaporated, then drain and keep the liquid for later use (see step 2 below).
- half a bunch of flat leaf parsley leaves (chopped finely).
- half a bunch of mint leaves (chopped finely).
- 2 green chillies, finely sliced.
- 2 lemons, juiced.
- 120 grams of pine nuts, toasted until lightly golden, in a cast iron frying pan.
- First, prepare your brown rice. Rinse and drain your brown rice. I like my brown rice very well done, so I often soak it for an hour before cooking it. Place rinsed rice in a sauce pan with 4 cups of water. Add some salt to taste, bring to a boil, cover and gently simmer on a very low flame for 30–35 minutes, until the water has evaporated. Take off heat and keep covered so it will still be warm when needed.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick fry pan. Add onion, season with pepper and salt and cook slowly over a low heat for about 30 minutes until onion is caramelised. Add the reserved vinegar liquid and currants.
- In a large bowl, mix brown rice, parsley, mint and chilli in a large bowl. Mix together lemon juice and remaining olive oil and pour through rice. Mix through half the onion and currants and half the pinenuts. Place salad in serving bowl and top with remaining onion and pine nuts to serve.
Gluten Free and vegan