Black Rice & Kale Salad

This past weekend, Chris & I spent a long weekend in Yosemite National Park. We had a great time hiking in the park and cozying up in our yurt with a few good books. On our way home, we stopped at Oakdale Cheese in Oakdale, CA (because, as you know, I am a total nerd for artisan cheese). They have the cutest little gift shop where you can purchase their cheese, and you can even see cheese being made. We tasted all of their cheeses and even treated ourselves to a grilled cheese sandwich made out of their mild gouda. We left with a few wedges of cheese, my favorite being Seascape: an aged cheese made of cow and goats milk. It is simply divine!

So, onto this week's recipe...

I started a new job in January and, as a result, needed to start planning my lunches ahead of time. This is something I try to take care of on the weekends to prevent the two things that would happen if I didn't plan: either throwing a bunch of stuff together from the fridge (which would inevitably result in me being dissatisfied with my lunch) or going out to eat (which would most likely result in me being overfed and in a food coma by 2PM). I also need something that is satiating yet light and tasty yet healthy. And I totally hit the jackpot with this recipe.

You've heard me talk about Heidi Swanson before, and her food blog. She always puts together fabulous vegetarian dishes, and this one is no exception. It is a delicious combination of black rice, kale, and tofu with a fantastic Asian-inspired dressing. Following her suggestion, I also topped it with a poached egg and it was even more tasty, but you could certainly omit it if you are vegan, or just not an egg person. The egg & tofu provides a great amount of protein for my active lifestyle, the rice is filling and nutritious, and the kale is currently in season, so it was fabulous (I am a big fan of kale). The whole dish is tied together with a combination of sesame oil, shoyu, rice vinegar, lemon zest, ginger, & honey. This dressing packs such a punch and really elevates the dish.

If you cannot find black rice, you can also use brown rice (I just happened to have black rice in my pantry). Just stay away from white rice, as it lacks the nutrients of these other rices. If you want the egg too and are planning on this being a work lunch, poach the egg either the night before or in the morning, then at lunchtime heat it separately for 30 seconds (heating it longer will cook the egg more and in turn could make it rubbery). Make sure you get your eggs from a local, organic, reputable seller. The eggs will be more flavorful and healthier for you.


Black Rice & Kale Salad
Serves 4-6 people (or one person's lunch for a week)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 c extra-firm tofu, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 c kale, stalks & veins removed, finely chopped (chard could work as well)
2-3 c black rice (brown is a fine substitute)
4-6 good-quality eggs (depending on how many you are serving)

Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, grated*
1 tbsp honey
3/4 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c shoyu or soy sauce
1/3 c brown rice vinegar
4 tbsp sesame oil (or 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil and 2 tbsp olive oil)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tofu and cook until just slightly browned. Add the kale and garlic, saute until the kale is soft, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the rice until heated through. Remove from heat.

To make the dressing, combine the lemon zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor; process until smooth. Add lemon juice, shoyu, and rice vinegar, pulse to combine. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Once oil is incorporated, you can stop the food processor.

Put the kale-tofu mixture back on low heat and pour the dressing over it, stirring to incorporate completely. Remove from heat.

To poach the eggs, heat a pot of water on the stove until simmering. While waiting for the water to heat, crack an egg into a ramekin or small dish. Over the sink, slowly pour the egg into a fine mesh sieve (this will prevent flyaway whites during poaching). Return the egg to the ramekin. Once the water is simmering, gently slide the egg into the water. Poach 3 minutes for a runny yolk; 5 minutes for a fully cooked yolk. If serving right away, repeat this process with the remaining eggs.

To serve, add a scoop of the rice & kale mixture to a bowl. Top with a poached egg.

*Note: A great way to always have ginger around is buy a big piece and keep it in your freezer. Whenever you need some, grate the frozen ginger with a microplane grater.

Adapted from Poached Eggs Over Rice and Otsu from Super Natural Cooking, p. 62

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