Once a ‘forbidden rice’ due to its rarity, this Black Rice Salad is an impressive recipe. Enhanced by the elusive purple broccolini, saltiness from the anchovies and the decadent undertones of buttery breadcrumbs, this salad deserves a place on your dinner table.
Why I Love Black Rice Salad with Purple Broccolini and Bacon Breadcrumbs
Having found purple broccolini in its limited season at the local farmer’s market, I was immediately drawn to it and I knew I just had to make a salad with it.
I was in the mood for creating a dark and moody looking salad so I decided to use black rice as the base. And then to tie it all in, I wanted a salty component to round it off.
The buttery breadcrumbs mixed through with the crispy bacon was such a winner. My daughter was quite happy to stand there and eat the whole thing with none making it into the salad!
From a flavour perspective, this is a big salad. Rich melted butter, salty anchovies, the tartness from the lemon and the nuttiness from the black rice all gel together to create a great salad.
I also love the purple hues peeking through subtly along with the crunch from the asparagus. Yup, there’s a lot going on and that’s exactly why I love it!
What Is Black Rice?
There are 3 common varieties of black rice:
- Black Sticky Rice. This is a long-grain glutinous rice and popularly used in Thai desserts with ingredients such as mango and coconut milk. They are usually mixed with white glutinous rice and they are cooked by steaming.
- Chinese Black Rice. Chinese black rice is rice used in this salad and perhaps the most common variety we use today that can easily be found in supermarkets. Its consistency is the opposite of glutinous rice and is not sticky.
- Black Japonica Rice. This is fairly similar to the Chinese black rice as it’s a mixture of short-grain and medium-grain black rice.
Chinese black rice is also known as “forbidden rice”. The etymology of this name stems from its rich cultural history.
Originating from Ancient China, the yield of black rice was very low which meant that it was extremely rare and therefore only reserved for the emperor’s consumption.
Black rice was used as a blood tonic in traditional Chinese medicine as it was high in protein and iron which aided in the Emperor’s health and longevity.
What Makes the Rice Black?
The dark purplish colour of the black rice is due to a high concentration of anthocyanin. This is an antioxidant that gives the same colour to blueberries, eggplants and purple cauliflower.
It has been said that black rice nutrition rivals that of blueberries as it has more anthocyanin, which as you can imagine increased its popularity.
What Does Black Rice Taste Like?
Cooked black rice tastes nutty, fruity, earthy and/or floral.
How to Cook Black Rice?
Using the stovetop absorption method, the ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 cup of black rice.
When the water starts boiling in the saucepan, add the black rice and reduce it to a simmer. Cover the saucepan and let it cook for a minimum of 30 minutes until the rice is fluffy and cooked through.
Once all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let it rest for a further 10 minutes.
What Is Purple Broccolini?
Purple broccolini is the same as regular broccolini expect that its florets are purple. It is said that it has a higher level of antioxidants which gives it that purple hue.
They are not as easily available and can be found in the late winter or the start of spring.
If you wish to maintain the purple hues, don’t boil them as it will completely lose its colour. Roasting them as we have for this recipe does diminish the brightness of the purple tones but they are certainly still visible.
How to Make Black Rice Salad with Purple Broccolini and Bacon Breadcrumbs
How to Cook Black Rice?
The best way to cook black rice is the stovetop absorption method.
Simply use a ratio of 2 cups of water to 1 cup of washed, uncooked black rice.
Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, then add the black rice. Reduce it to a simmer and place the lid on top so the rice cooks in its own steam.
This process usually takes 30 minutes but depending on your cooktop and the many variables, it can take up to 45 minutes.
This absorption method means we want the black rice to absorb all the water until it’s nice and fluffy.
Once it’s cooked, turn the heat off and let it sit for another 10 minutes, just like you would for any other types of rice.
How to Roast the Purple Broccolini?
While the black rice is cooking, let’s prepare the purple broccolini.
Wash the purple broccolini and pat dry. Trim 2 inches off the ends of the purple broccolini stems to get rid of the woody ends.
In a medium sized bowl, coat the purple broccolini with 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt.
Lay the coated purple broccolini on a sheet pan and spread them out evenly. Place in the oven at 180°C or 350°F for 15 minutes.
Once that is roasted through, remove from the oven, set aside and let it cool.
How to Blanch the Asparagus?
Bring a small saucepan of water to boil.
Snap off the woody ends and discard.
Cut the asparagus into 3, diagonally. Blanch the asparagus in boiling hot water for about 1.5 minutes. R
emove and put under cold running water or place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. When that is done, pat the asparagus dry.
How To Prepare The Bacon Breadcrumbs
Cut the bacon rashers into very small bits, preferably square. In a fry pan, add 30g of butter and crisp bacon for 5 minutes.
Then add another 30g of butter, let it melt a little and add the panko breadcrumbs. Fry for a further 5 minutes or until it is golden brown. Set aside to cool.
How To Make The Anchovy Lemon Vinaigrette
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the anchovies until it forms a paste.
Then add 3 tbsp of olive oil, red wine vinegar and juice of ½ a lemon. Mix and grind until well combined. You want the anchovies to really permeate the olive oil and vinegar.
How to Assemble the Salad
The best serving platter to use for this black rice salad is a flat one if you have it. The purple broccolini is long so serving it in a bowl wouldn’t work.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the black rice, ¾ of the bacon breadcrumbs ¾ of the asparagus and the salty anchovy dressing. Mix until well combined.
Place the mixture onto the plate. Add the purple broccolini and the rest of the asparagus and bacon breadcrumbs on top.
This salad is to be served immediately as the dressing will make the breadcrumbs go a little soggy if left for too long.
This black rice salad certainly has a lot of cooking elements but I can assure you it’s worth the effort. This is a great salad to put together if you have a special occasion or if you simply want to impress your guests.
Let the purple broccolini and punchy, salty flavours from the bacon and anchovy dressing do the talking!
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Rustic Black Rice Salad with Purple Broccolini
- 1 cup black rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 purple broccolini, bunch
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 asparagus, bunch
- 6 bacon rashers
- 60 g butter
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Turn on the oven and set it at 180°C or 350°F.
- Wash the uncooked black rice thoroughly. Add the black rice and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Cover the saucepan and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Once it’s cooked, turn the heat off and let it sit for a further 10 minutes.
- Wash the purple broccolini and pat dry. Trim 2 cm off the ends of the purple broccolini stems. In a medium sized mixing bowl, coat it with 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt. On a sheet pan, lay the purple broccolini out evenly and place in the oven at 180°C or 350°F for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard. Cut asparagus into 3, diagonally. Blanch in boiling hot water for 1.5 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry.
- Cut the bacon rashers into very small bits, preferably square.. Add 30g of butter to a fry pan and crisp bacon for 5 minutes. Add a further 30g of butter and add the panko breadcrumbs. Fry for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the anchovies until it forms a paste.
- Add 3 tbsp of olive oil, red wine vinegar and juice of ½ a lemon. Mix and grind until well combined.
- Use a flat plate or platter for this black rice salad.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the black rice, ¾ of the bacon breadcrumbs ¾ of the asparagus and dressing. Mix until well combined.
- Place the mixture onto the plate. Add the purple broccolini and the rest of the asparagus and bacon breadcrumbs on top.
- Serve immediately.
- Purple broccolini loses its colour if you boil it so if you wish to retain the colour, this recipe calls for roasting.
- You can substitute purple broccolini with green broccolini or even broccoli.
- You can substitute black rice for brown rice or a mixture of wild rice and brown rice.
- You can use any type of breadcrumb for this recipe. Panko breadcrumbs are just fluffier.
- Use gluten free breadcrumbs to make this black rice recipe gluten free.
- This salad is to be eaten straightaway as the breadcrumbs will become soggy from the dressing if it’s left out for too long.
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