We love this dish at Halloween because of the rich, vibrant orange of the roasted pumpkin nestled alongside the deep purple of the rice. (Black rice is purple when cooked!)
This recipe works just as well as a cold salad as it does when eaten warm, so leave it up to the weather and mood as to how you choose to enjoy it.
Something to note about black rice: it's rather sticky in nature, so don't expect your usual rice salad consistency, where the grains are separate and dry. Black rice, with its glorious clumpy stickiness, is a different eating experience altogether, and it's what makes it so yummy.
Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side
Prep time: 15 mins; Cook Time:45 mins
1 cup uncooked black rice
½ tsp sea salt
1kg pumpkin- I like Kent- halved then cut into thin wedges (just wide enough so they can stand up on their own)
1 red onion cut into quarters
Stir-through dressing for rice and pumpkin:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
½ tsp salt
½ cracked pepper
¾ cup greek yoghurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt & pepper
⅓ cup pecan nuts
⅓ cup pepitas
¼ cup cranberries
½ cup fresh chopped mint
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
Turn the oven on to 200C/180C fan forced. (We will be roasting the pumpkin while the rice cooks on the stove).
Rapid Boil the Rice: Wash and drain black rice then place it in a large pot with about 6 cups of water and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to gentle simmer. Leave uncovered and simmer for 30 minutes. Check to see if it's cooked enough - it should be soft & tender but a little chewy. You may need to simmer it for a few more minutes until it's cooked. When it's done, drain rice into a colander placed in your kitchen sink. Spread the cooked rice over a lined baking tray. Gently pour half of the stir-through dressing mixture over the rice then set aside to cool.
Meanwhile roast the pumpkin: Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Stand pumpkin wedges upright on a prepared tray (skin side down). Add onion to the tray. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over pumpkin and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelised.
Add pecans and pepitas to the tray with the pumpkin (keep the pecans and pepitas together in one corner) and return it to the oven for a further 5 mins. Set the tray aside to cool. You can turn the oven off now!
Make yoghurt sauce by simply whisking all ingredients together (yoghurt, lemon juice, maple syrup and salt & pepper) in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Grab that cooked rice you've been cooling - it's ok if it's still a little warm - and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add half the chopped fresh herbs, half the pecans and pepitas, and half the cranberries. Toss carefully to tumble the ingredients together gently
Now we bring it all together! Spoon the rice mixture into the bottom of a platter or wide salad bowl. Lay the pumpkin slices over the top of the rice, Drizzle the yoghurt over it all, then sprinkle the remaining herbs, pecans, pepitas and cranberries on top. Enjoy!
Keeps for up to 4 days in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge an hour before you plan to eat it, as the flavours really sing at room temperature.
This recipe can be made a day ahead. Just be sure to store the individual components in separate airtight containers in the fridge.