Black Rice Harvest

I never realized how delicious black rice was until I came up with this autumn whole grain dish. I'm so glad I don't live in ancient China where only the emperors were able to eat this tasty, nutritious rice! I happened to have sweet potatoes and beets to use up while I was experimenting with this black grain, so I incorporated them into this dish. Black rice cooks up well in a rice cooker (1 cup rice and 2.5 cups water or stock) for less fuss. No need to peel the sweet potatoes. Just scrub them up, cut them into cubes, and toss them with a little oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on a pan to roast in the oven. I used two varieties of sweet potatoes so I could add both a beautiful deep orange and a lighter color to the dish, but any sweet potato or yam variety works. The beets are optional, but such an easy addition. Just wash the beets and wrap them in foil, and toss them in the oven with the sweet potatoes. My easy beet method peels and dices the cooked beets in the foil for a no-mess clean up in a snap. If you don't use beets, you may want to add dried cranberries, or use both! Any way you make it, it's good. It tastes great as a rice bowl or as a side, and it's terrific the next day as well. I love to eat this dish alongside a green salad, and sometimes fish. It's a perfect October meal to get the gang ready for the black and orange Halloween festivities. Originally published on October 14, 2013
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Ingredients

1 cup uncooked black rice or 3 to 4 cups cooked black rice 1 tsp refrigerator base with 2.5 cups of water or 2.5 cups stock 2 sweet potatoes and/or yams, diced into 1/2 inch cubes 2 to 3 whole beets (optional) 4 green onions, diced small 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional) 2 tbsp olive oil 3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar infused with pear and cranberry or balsamic vinegar 1/2 tsp cumin Salt & pepper to taste 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Directions

1) Use a rice cooker or sauce pan to prepare rice per directions on package. I use 2.5 cups warm water mixed with 2 teaspoons refrigerated stock base and add it to a rice cooker along with 1 cup uncooked black rice, but rice cookers may differ.
2) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
3) While rice is cooking, wash sweet potatoes and dice with skin on. In a bowl, toss them with a tablespoon or less of oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread potatoes out on a roasting pan and cook on a high rack near the heating element to encourage browning. Keep an eye on them and adjust the rack so they can cook and brown simultaneously without burning. Cook until tender and golden brown, approximately 15 minutes.
4) If using beets, prepare them by washing and cutting the ends flat. Set each beet on a large square of foil and drizzle with oil along with salt and pepper. Place foil-wrapped beets in 400-degree oven. Roast until a knife slices through beets easily, about an hour. Beets can be cooked beforehand and kept in the refrigerator until you want to use them. Once beets are soft and cooked through, remove the skin by rubbing a paper towel over beets while still inside the foil. Dice in 1/4-inch pieces by slicing the beets lengthwise and then widthwise inside foil. Keeping the beet mess contained in the foil, remove the cut beets and toss the foil.
5) While vegetables are roasting, dice the green onions. Combine the vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a jar or bowl. Toast almonds, if not already toasted, by adding them to a hot skillet and browning until golden.
6) Combine all ingredients together in a skillet except almonds. Toss and heat. Add toasted almonds. Serve as a rice bowl or a side. Enjoy!