When I made the decision to start this blog, I wanted to make sure that I was not only cooking and sharing my recipes that I have been making for years, but to also try new things and new recipes. I came across a wonderful site a few weeks ago, Fresh365, and quickly realized that I would definitely be trying out a lot of her recipes. The site features a collection of fresh, vegetarian recipes as well as beautiful photography.
When I read this recipe I couldn’t wait to make it. I had never had black rice before and I love rice and all of it’s varieties. I wasn’t able to find just plain black rice, but I found something called “Black Japonica” – a blend of Japanese short grain black rice and medium grain mahogany. Between a brand new grain and all of these delicious and beautiful in-season items, I knew that I couldn’t go wrong.
The asparagus was the best I have seen it yet at the market and my chives have been growing like crazy in the yard. The taste of the black and mahogany rice was nutty, mushroom-like and even a little bit sweet. That paired with the bright hints of orange, the crunch of the fresh herbs and pine nuts, made my mouth and mind just explode with thoughts of “fresh” and “spring”. This dish actually made me insanely excited for the upcoming months and for even more fresh vegetables and herbs. I am counting down the days till I can start my veggie and herb gardens again and that time can’t seem to come soon enough. For now delicious dishes like this, taking advantage of the in-season items I can get at the grocery store and at farmers markets, will definitely hold me over.
Spring Black & Mahogany Rice
Adapted from Fresh365
14 oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, then cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 1/2 c fresh orange juice (I had 3 oranges and was only able to get 1 c of juice so that’s what I used)
1 T honey
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t salt
1 c Japanese black and mahogany rice
2 c water
4 T olive oil
20 stems asparagus, tough stems discarded, cut into 1” pieces
1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
1 c packed basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1 T vinegar (I used red wine)
salt & pepper, to taste
Combine pressed tofu, orange juice, honey, garlic and salt in a large bowl. Gently toss to coat tofu. Let sit at least 15 minutes.
In a medium sauce pan, combine black rice and water, over high heat. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer, 40 minutes. Set aside. (I found that I needed to keep adding more water to my rice as it was just soaking it up)
In a large sauté pan, heat 2 T olive oil, over high heat. Add marinated tofu cubes, and cook 8-10 minutes, until golden brown, shaking pan often to avoid sticking. It was taking a bit for the tofu to start browning so I spooned out some of the marinade and allowed the tofu to brown up a bit then added it back in. Add asparagus, and cook 5 minutes, until tender (again shaking pan often).
In a large serving bowl, gently combine tofu and asparagus with rice. Add chives, basil and pine nuts. Drizzle with 2 T olive oil and vinegar. Gently toss and season to taste with salt, pepper and more olive oil, vinegar, citrus or honey, if desired.