It's Saturday evening in my part of the world, which means that it's time to dust off another of my cookbooks and share something with you for Cookbook Sundays. If you'd also like to scare a few moths out of some of your own seldom used cookbooks and join the fun, you'll find full details later on in this post.
It's also New Year's Eve here and, although I have no plans for partying, I still felt compelled to make something a bit special and seemingly celebratory for my dinner. At the same time, since I've been a bit unwell this week, I wanted something that was both healthy and slightly comforting.
For healthy and comforting, one of the best places to turn in my opinion is the divine Heidi Swanson. A couple of weeks ago I shared a recipe from her first book Super Natural Cooking; however, I thought it was time I turned to her more recent book Super Natural Every Day.
I came across a recipe for "Whole Grain Rice Salad", which certainly sounded wholesome enough, but that seriously doesn't sound like celebration fare, now does it? Still the picture in the book looked pretty and a read through of the ingredients convinced me that this dish could indeed be a festive dinner. Now, really, don't you think that a dish of wild rice, studded with black cherries, toasted hazelnuts, goat cheese and tossed with a cherry vinaigrette, and which looks like this, deserves a better name than Whole Grain Rice Salad?
I did change things a bit from the original recipe. Firstly, I used half wild rice and half brown rice, since my budget didn't run to using all wild rice. The original recipe claimed to serve six, but since I didn't have five other people to feed, I reduced the amount of rice by half. But as I still wanted this to be a substantial meal, and I wanted there to be leftovers, I kept all the other quantities roughly the same. For the dressing I adjusted the ratio of vinegar to olive oil as I found it to be just a bit too, well ... vinegary. I also added a bit of maple syrup to the dressing as I felt it need just a bit more sweetness - this of course might depend on how sweet your cherries are. I replaced walnuts with toasted hazelnuts, just because I love them and also because I love the way shape of the hazelnuts echoes the shape of the cherries. And, lastly, because I am ever one to gild the lily, I added some pomegranate seeds.
Wild Rice, Black Cherry & Goat Cheese Salad
(previously known as Whole Grain Rice Salad)
adapted from a recipe by Heidi Swanson from
Serve 2 as a substantial meal or
serve 3 as a light meal or
serve 4 as a side dish
(for a vegan alternative omit the goat cheese)
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
125g (4.5 oz) wild rice
125g (4.5 oz) brown rice
3 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
200g (7 oz) black cherries
125ml (4.2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
40ml (1.4 fl oz) white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
flaky sea salt
handful of crumbled goat cheese
small handful of baby basil leaves
small handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)
Put the rice into a large saucepan with plenty of salted water, and boil until tender - about 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the cherry vinaigrette: remove the pits from and combine one third of the cherries in a blender with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and maple syrup. Blend until the mixture is smooth, taste and adjust any of the elements as necessary. Set aside.
Once the rice is cooked, drain, and put into a large bowl along with spinach leaves and most of the hazelnuts. Toss together well until the spinach begins to wilt slightly. Add a generous amount of the dressing and toss well. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Cut the rest of the cherries in half and remove the pits. Then stir most of them into the rice.
Tip everything out onto a platter. Strew the remaining cherries and hazelnuts over the top, along with chunks of the goat cheese and the pomegranate seeds. Finally stud with the sprigs of basil and serve immediately.
This is a great dish for a summer celebration - packed full of amazing flavours and textures - and I do hope you'll try it.
This last year has not been without its difficulties, and I won't be sad to close the door on it in a few hours time. However, there have also been wonderful moments in my year - new friendships forged, the kindness of strangers, memorable travels, and the opportunity to start a new life in a new home and city. Most of all I am immensely grateful for all of you who stop by here regularly, who take the time to read what I have to say, leave me your comments, and lend me your support and wisdom. I am optimistic about the year ahead, and for all of you I wish you a happy and inspirational time in 2012.
Earlier I mentioned Cookbook Sundays. What is that all about, you are perhaps wondering. Well, if you're anything like me you have dozens of cookbooks gathering dust on your bookshelves, some of which have never even been cooked from. Sure I spent hours browsing through them when I first bought them, marking all the recipes I was going to make with little post-it notes, and yet still those books languish in the bookcase and never make it to the kitchen. There are others from which I have made but one recipe which was such a resounding success that I've made it over and over again, and yet somehow I've never made anything else from that book. Sound a bit familiar?!
Take comfort - you are not alone, and now Cookbook Sundays is your opportunity to change that. Every Sunday I'm going to share with you a recipe that I haven't made before from one of my ever expanding collection of cookbooks. And, because I know that if you have read this far then you are guilty of this too, I'm inviting you to join in with me. Each week my Cookbook Sundays post will have a linky for you to share something you've cooked from one of your cookbooks.
The rules for joining in are simple:
- Your post must state the author and the title of the book your recipe has come from.
- Your post must mention Cookbook Sundays and link back to this post. Including the Cookbook Sundays badge is optional, but always appreciated.
- You may submit as many entries as you like, and you may use the same cookbook as many times as you like. Old posts are also welcome.
- Lastly, remember that what goes around, comes around - one of the reasons you are participating in this is because you want people to read your posts, so do the right thing and go and visit a few of the other participants.
Now, go and dust off those cookbooks and get cooking! Use the linky tool at the end of this post to submit your entry/entries - simply scroll down to where it says "You are next ... Click here to enter", and then follow the instructions. The linky will be open for one week.
Lastly, if you would like to use the Cookbook Sundays badge in your post, simply copy the code in the box beside the badge below and paste it into your post. Feel free to also use it in your sidebar if you wish.
I'm also sharing this post at Souper (and Sammies & Salads) Sundays hosted by my lovely friend Deb, at Kahakai Kitchen, and at My Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya at My Sweet & Savory.