Roasted Pumpkin Brown Rice Salad

My past experiences with cooking brown rice have been unpleasant. Since I have been growing up to cooking rice using a rice cooker and not any other way, I’m not a fan of  methods which requires cooking rice over stove i.e absorption method. So I thought I could  do the same with brown rice. Coupled with my disregard to the instructions on the packet, let’s just say if I were on Hell’s Kitchen, the result will earn me a good yelling and have the frowning Gordon Ramsay staring at me in disgust, swearing  the “f” word in the meantime! :P

After a couple of misses, I have realised that while you can get away from cooking white rice in the rice cooker, it won’t work with unmilled rice. Well, not for me anyway! The main problem was I tried adding brown rice into white rice in effort to introduce the former into my diet slowly. Obviously both rice requires different length in cooking times, and therefore never turned out perfectly – mostly brown rice still remained “crunchy”. While I love food to be crunchy in general, rice is not  what you wanted to be crunchy. In fact, I find it as horrifying as cakes sink in the middle. After all, partially cooked rice is just crying INDIGESTION if you decided not to waste it!

If you’re a true brown rice lover, you may be able to eat it with stir frys or curries. Unfortunately, I can’t say I am one for I prefer it best in salads. This roasted pumpkin brown rice salad is somewhat a happy accident as I was looking to add a healthy dish  amongst my butter laden Christmas eve dinner. As I was going through the menu with my visiting friend, Adam, he was like ” uhmm…I think we need a salad!”. Oh of course, I was so busy in planning my meat, potato dishes and dessert, I have conveniently left out the “salad”. “No surprise there” was the look Adam gave me. Anyway, looking through my pantry only to have found 3/4 packet full of brown rice which I bought ages ago, Adam has suggested that we can make a salad from it and he showed me how to cook it PROPERLY this time. Since then, I’m totally smitten with brown rice – it is simply great in salad.

Roasted Pumpkin Brown Rice Salad

(A fuss free cooking recipe)

3 servings as a light meal; generous portions for 2 people

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice (I’ve used basmati brown rice)
  • 1/4 Japanese pumpkin, peeled & diced to 1/2 inch sized cubes (roughly)
  • A handful of mixed salad leaves or baby spinach
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil / vegetable oil
  • Sliced roma tomatoes (optional), if not toasted pine nuts and almonds work really well too!

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 shallots; 1/4 brown or spanish onion
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lime (yielding about 1/8 cup)
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tsps maple syrup / golden syrup / honey

(1/8 cup is not a common measurement but this is just to give you an idea on the quantity.  The general idea is the lime juice should be sufficient to macerate the onion in order to mellow its “harshness” and I prefer to keep the lime juice to olive oil ratio as 1:1 for this salad bearing in mind this is not the usual vinaigrette ratio. For this portion of rice salad, I reckon you need no more than 1/4 cup of dressing as anything more would be overdress! Remember this, an overdressed person is acceptable,  an overdressed salad is not! )

Method:

  • Cook brown rice according to packet instructions (I think it helps to add about 1 tsp of oil while cooking the rice to keep the grains separated). Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius / 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Spread diced pumpkins onto the tray. Sprinkle ground cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and drizzle some oil over the pumpkins, mix evenly. Bake the pumpkin for 20 minutes or until tender. Then, set aside to cool.

  • To make the dressing, extract the juice from one and half limes into a measuring jug (preferable glass). Thinly sliced the onion and let it macerate for a couple of minutes in the lime juice. Then add salt, pepper, maple syrup and olive oil and whisk until it emulsifies into a creamy sauce.

  • Lightly toss the brown rice, roasted pumpkin and half portion of the dressing. Then add a handful of salad leaves with the remaining of the dressing  on to the rice salad – this is to dress the salad leaves lightly before mixing with the rice salad.

  • Add sliced tomatoes before serving – which is totally optional. Alternatively, you can add toasted pine nut and/or almonds for some crunch. This can be served at room temperature, cold or as warm salad.

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12 Responses to Roasted Pumpkin Brown Rice Salad
  1. Christina
    January 15, 2011 | 12:49 am

    Very interesting! Looks pretty and tasty!

    • Emily
      January 15, 2011 | 4:16 am

      Thanks for your compliment, Christina! :D

  2. Sandra
    January 15, 2011 | 1:28 am

    I love this recipe, and what an amazing color…beautiful photos!

    • Emily
      January 15, 2011 | 4:17 am

      Thanks Sandra. Glad that you like the recipe! :D

  3. Mark
    January 15, 2011 | 3:35 am

    Yum. Looks like you have some great meals going on. Keep it up.

    • Emily
      January 15, 2011 | 4:18 am

      Thanks Mark. Yeah this was pretty delicious and I’m quite proud of it, hehehe!

  4. Helen (grabyourfork)
    January 15, 2011 | 4:07 am

    I’ve cooked half white/half brown rice in my rice cooker without too much trouble, using a little more water than I would use for white rice. I’ve always been a bit traumatised by crunchy rice salads from my childhood, but this looks great.

    • Emily
      January 15, 2011 | 4:15 am

      Oh ok, I guess I have to try to get the water right next time. Glad to hear that it does work with rice cooker. :D Thanks for the tip.

  5. Jessica's Dinner Party
    January 15, 2011 | 5:27 pm

    I usually soak brown rice for a couple of hours before cooking it. Maybe that’ll help! This salad sound delicious!

  6. Joy
    January 15, 2011 | 9:57 pm

    What a lovely salad! I love brown rice because of it’s nutty flavour and the health benefits are a definite bonus. I’m so jealous though! I had a French Pumpkin in my CSA about a month ago and I haven’t had it since!

  7. Tiffany
    January 17, 2011 | 2:44 am

    This looks great! I love roasted squash on salad! And like you, it took me some time to get the hang of cooking brown rice (but it’s so worth it, no?!) :)

  8. Miss Vodka
    January 19, 2011 | 4:37 am

    This looks fantastic. Love your blog :)

    bluejasminevodka.blogspot.com

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