Moroccan Forbidden Rice Salad
This recipe for Moroccan Forbidden Rice Salad may be my favorite grain salad of all time. But it’s more than jut one recipe. It’s a template for an infinite number of grain salads. Here’s the formula: Whole Grains + Olive Oil Dressing + Nuts + Beans + Toppings. Once you’ve made this recipe a few times, you’ll be able to whip up a grain salad in no time, with what you have in the fridge and the pantry, without even using a recipe.
Forbidden Rice, also known as Black Rice, is my go-to grain for brain health (read 5 reasons why here.) But you can substitute other great grains for awesome results. Think farro, quinoa, brown rice, wheatberries, or other varieties of not-white rice.
The secret to great grain salads (besides using Forbidden Rice)
Let’s face it: We know grain salads are good for us, but they can be a little ho-hum. Many are dry, underseasoned, and lack texture and crunch. The solution? Amp up the appeal with warm spices, a big hit of lemon (both the juice and the zest), and a grain that already has tons of sweet, nutty flavor. Don’t omit the salt when cooking the rice; it is essential to bringing out its flavor. Tossing the rice while it’s still warm— in this case with the cardamom, lemon juice and olive oil — makes for a most intensely flavored grain salad.
Substitutions are endless: almonds or hazelnuts for the pistachios, dried apricots or currants for the dates, sumac or coriander for the cardamom, freshly squeezed blood orange juice for the lemon. Get the idea? Top it with parsley or cilantro or basil or mint. Or, a combination of herbs. Serve it warm or cold or room temperature. Make it now and eat it over the next 3 days — the flavors actually improve with time.
Check of many of the MIND diet’s brain healthy food groups in one dish
If you are following the MIND diet way of eating to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, the Moroccan Forbidden Rice Salad checks off a lot boxes in the brain healthy food groups. Whole grains (3 servings a day), nuts (5 servings a week), olive oil (primary cooking oil), chickpeas (beans every other day.) Read more about the MIND diets’s 10 brain healthy food groups.)
Look for Forbidden Rice, or Black Rice, in the grain section of good grocery stores. Black wild rice looks similar but doesn’t have the same flavor.
Want ideas for more great grain salads? Here’s one with Italian flavors that I like: Heidi Swanson’s Mostly Olive Salad, With Some Farro.
I can’t wait to hear about all the amazing grain salads you make riffing off this recipe. If you’re an Instagrammer or Facebooker, take a snapshot and tag #brainworkskitchen. I want to check it out! Enjoy!