Deep and Dark. Love this salad for Halloween or Thanksgiving! Dramatic looking black and red...loaded up with antioxidants and chock full of flavor, it is a rift on the old rice and beans combo that you find in many food cultures around the world. I created this one especially for Halloween but I am sure I will be serving it all pomegranate season long. (Thanks to Craig for the BOX of pomegranates! I'm putting them to good use.)
1 1/2 cups cooked black rice or Coconut Black Rice, or Cilantro Lime Black Rice
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (canned is fine, home cooked is better)
1 1/2 cups pomegranate arils
1/3 cup finely diced purple onion
1 ripe avocado for garnish
1/3 cup orange or clementine juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup almond oil (or vegetable oil)
Mix rice, beans, pomegranate and onion together in a serving bowl. Blend all the dressing ingredients except oil in a small bowl.Heat for 15 seconds or so in a microwave or warm in a hot water bath. Whisk in the oil and pour over the salad. Toss thoroughly and garnish with avocado when ready to serve. Good served at room temperature or chilled. The flavors will meld more if allowed to sit for at least an hour.
Hints: It took me a few tries to get the right balance of flavors in the dressing. The rice and beans are solid enough flavors to stand up to the cocoa powder. However, if you are scared, you can leave the cocoa powder out and it will be a citrus dressing and that may make some of you more comfortable. This dressing would be good on different salads, like a spinach and pear with pecans or Romain with apples and feta. I have also used lime juice instead of orange and found it needed another teaspoon of honey that way. See my post Pomegranate Sauce for a good way to work over a pomegranate. One medium pomegranate will yield about 1 1/2 cups of arils.
This may take a leap of faith but I think you will really, really enjoy this salad. It works as a side dish with pork or turkey cutlets, or a main dish salad served over a bed of mixed greens, add some fresh mozzarella or chopped nuts if you want to up the protein level. My family was split on this recipe the first time I made it and so I did some tweaking for this blog version. I really appreciate their willingness to go along with all my culinary experimenting and their great feedback on what works and what needs work. Thanks team!