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Black rice with wilted red cabbage, colored peppers and anise seed

I love colorful food. From a scientific (and nerdy) perspective, your brain is attracted to bright colors, and it automatically stimulates the brain to be hungry. This is one of the theories why there are lots of vegetables and foods that have evolved to be brightly colored. In addition, colors also say a lot about the mineral and vitamin content of food. No matter the reason, this is a spectacularly colored dish that is amazing. This is the dish that is the "Wow" factor on your table.

Most folks are familiar with basmati and white rice, some sticky sushi and Jasmine rice, and paella rice that include bomba, carnaroli rice and bahia. But this planet has 1000's of varieties of rice that is grown on every continent excluding Antartica. The world of rice also extends to black and red rice that are nutritionally better for you and so much more delicious. Historically, rice is one of the oldest crops, over 10,000 (yes that is correct) years old cultivated first in China. The Chola empire in India, from 9-13th century was successful, in part, due to their agricultural expertise and ability to grow rice with over 300 varieties that have been attributed to their breeding programs.

In reality this is quite a simple salad to make. The earthy black rice is the base for this salad, and is complimented by the red cabbage, flavors of colored peppers, and nutty from the cashew nuts, all drenched in a soy-mirin dressing. This is a hearty salad, but one that has wonderful subtle flavors, and one you cannot stop eating.

This is probably my favorite Deborah Madison cookbook, and yes I do have almost all her fabulous cookbooks. The recipes, like this salad, are quite unique and full of flavors. I recommend any of her cookbooks, but this one stands out on my bookshelf.

For more delicious dished from this cookbook, click here.


1 cup black rice, or red or brown rice

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons peanut oil, or olive oil

2 teaspoons anise seeds (saunf)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups scallions, whites and greens sliced thinly

4 heaping cups red cabbage, sliced thinly

1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 generous cup cilantro, minced + more for garnish

Salt, to taste, careful, the soy also has lots of salt

1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts or peanuts

Cook the black rice in water with the salt till done but it still retains a bite, about 20-25 minutes. Be careful not to make it too mushy.

Heat the oil in a wide wok and add the anise seeds and sauté till lightly colored, about 10 seconds. Add the garlic and scallions and sauté till the onions are wilted and the garlic is no longer raw, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the red cabbage, peppers, mirin and soy sauce cook till the vegetables have begun to wilt. You want the cabbage and peppers to be just cooked, but still maintaining their crunch and texture. You do not want mushy vegetables. Turn off the heat and add the cilantro, and toss the bowl to mix the cilantro in with the vegetables. The cilantro will cook and infuse the vegetables with its aroma in the residual heat.

To serve, add the black rice to the center of a large flat bowl or plate. Add the vegetables to the side or on top, including any of the sauce that is left in the pan. Garnish with the cashew nuts and the cilantro. Serve either slightly warm or at room temperature.

Alternately, for a simpler presentation, toss the rice and vegetables together with the remaining dressing in the pan. Load into a bowl and garnish with the cashew nuts and cilantro. Serve at room temperature.

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