When we talk about nutritional food, I thought about anything purple-coloured food. Not green but purple, why? …hmmm.. I’m not sure. It’s not that I like wearing a purple coloured shirt which I don’t have, nor is it my birthstone though I’m fascinated with amethyst that I have. Maybe it’s because I read too much about cancer, diabetes, blood pressure. Any dietitian or nutritionist or anybody who understands and respects all the nutritional value of each food always talks about antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and maybe more “anti”. It is also touted that foods with natural purple hue offer a wide array of health benefits from fruits to vegetables and grains. This led to my obsession with purple sweet potato, blueberries, blackberries, purple asparagus, purple cauliflower, eggplant, passion fruit, mangosteen, acai berries, dragon fruit and one of the best, black rice or forbidden rice.
Anthocyanin is the main pigment of black rice that gained attraction among the researchers due to its high antioxidant activity, health benefits and natural colouring properties for food processing1. Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants that are found in a spoonful from blueberries2. This is one reason why Black rice is in my repertoire. Growing up, we only plant black rice for making special desserts and rice wine for special occasions, I can’t imagine how healthy the rice wine that my great grandparents made from black rice and is pure and unadulterated (This might be one of their secret elixir for staying strong and healthy despite their old age:)). Aside from the health benefit you get from it, I fell in love with its chewy texture and nutty flavour with a hint of settled sweetness that makes it delicious.
I was at the Italian grocery store to buy some of their freshly made ravioli but I grabbed Italian black rice instead as soon as I saw it. Italian black rice is long grain rice with a rich buttery aroma. Immediately I thought about Kale salad to start, risotto with shrimp scampi and roasted asparagus for the entrée and berry tart for dessert. A perfect menu for a party of four at home. This is how good it is when even just one ingredient makes you happy
For the Kale salad, I made it very simple (kale, tomatoes, shaved parmesan, dried cranberries, tomatoes and sherry vinaigrette).
After washing, tearing it apart and spinning it to dry – transfer it to a bigger bowl, add a good splash of your best extra virgin olive oil, toss to coat the greens. The secret for the kale is to give a therapeutic gentle massage to soften the leaves. In a small bowl, start with 2 tablespoons of vinegar available (I like a nice sherry vinegar for kale salad), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk then add to the prepared kale followed by the dried cranberries, currants or raisins of your choice. Toss them all together and let it sit while you are preparing the main course. Before serving, add the sliced tomatoes and shaved parmesan, add more vinegar, oil, or seasoning if needed according to the quantity of kale you’re serving.
- 1 Pound asparagus, wash and remove the hard end part.
- 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ Teaspoon Pink salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220C). Cut the asparagus into 2 inches and put it in a mixing bowl.
- Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
- Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until just tender
BAKED LEMON-GARLIC SHRIMP (shrimp scampi)
- 1 ½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon minced or finely grated garlic
- 1 Medium lemon – juice half of the lemon, cut the other half into quarters; remove the seeds and slice thinly
- ½ Teaspoon pink salt
- ¼ Teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ Teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
- 3 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the shrimp in a large baking dish and add all the rest of the ingredients except the parsley and toss everything to combine. Let it Marinade while waiting for the oven to preheat for at least 10 minutes
- Put the shrimp into the preheated oven and bake for 13 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through- pink and opaque. Take out from the oven and sprinkle the parsley.
BLACK RICE RISOTTO WITH LEMONY SHRIMP AND ROASTED ASPARAGUS
- 1 Cup black rice
- 4-5 Cups chicken stock
- 1 Medium cooking onion, finely diced
- 2 stalks celery , finely diced
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + extra for drizzling
- 3 Tablespoon butter
- ½ Teaspoon salt
- ½ Cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Diced avocado
- In a saucepan with a lid, bring the broth to simmer over medium-high heat; put the lid on and keep it warm.
- In another large saucepan with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, lower the heat stir to combine and put the lid on to sweat the vegetables for 3-5minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft.
- Turn the heat to medium, add the rice and continue cooking, add ground pepper as you stir to combine for 3 minutes. Laddle in ¾ cup of the warm chicken stock and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed – about 7 minutes. Continue adding ½ cup of the stock at a time until the rice is tender with a little bite as you chew – about 40- 50minutes.
- Add butter, stir until the butter melts, then followed by ½ teaspoon salt and a few grind of pepper. Remove the pot from the heat, add the grated parmesan and stir to combine until creamy. Add extra seasoning and parmesan according to your taste.
- Serve immediately topped with roasted asparagus, baked lemon- garlic shrimp, scatter the diced avocado and drizzle with olive oil to finish.