Lundberg has now added a black and mahogany rice to its line of ecologically-farmed rice products. And since they’ve been around for three generations and are so good at growing distinctive varieties, their company’s success has helped keep their heirloom rice affordable. This one is $3.99 a pound. Unlike white rice, black rice (sometimes referred to as purple rice) has not had the hull removed, and retains abundant nutrients and fiber in the outer coating. The black color indicates it’s full of anthocyanins which are the phytonutrients found in dark-colored plants like blueberries and blackberries. In fact, Louisiana State University Chemistry Professor Zhimin Xu (Department of Food Science and Agriculture) has said, “just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.” (Remarks given to the ACS, the largest scientific society in the world.) Dr. Xu highlighted the benefit of black rice as a more economic and practical alternative to getting antioxidants for many people in the world.
In addition to its nutritional merit, this black rice has a wonderful texture and a nutty, subtly sweet spiciness when added to dishes. Since discovering it on the shelves of Ballard Market, I use it all the time. For me, it’s also a way to stretch meals (I’m feeding a family of four), reduce the amount of meat I add to a dish, and it’s a good bread replacement providing some satiating complex carbs to my vegetables, and lots of extra nutrients. The perfect balance. Cutting short the time spent by a stove during the week is a priority in everyone’s life– cooking extra makes sense, especially if it’s easy and affordable. Rice keeps very well in a sealed container so I alway double the recipe using two cups of dry rice in 4 cups of water. It’s a 35-40 minute cook time because of the hull, but no more work than any other rice, and no rinsing either. That way there’s leftovers for part of another dish and having it handy helps me get through weeknight meals without succumbing to restaurant food.
The cooked rice gets used during the week in the following ways: with hearty green salads (straight from the refrigerator); as a crunchy sprinkle on the top of dishes when I toast it for a few minutes (the beautiful color looks like black sesame seeds); or just warmed in the microwave and placed beneath a saucy dish like the curry pictured below. Undercook the rice by 5 minutes and add it to meat in a skillet that is almost browned, and you will have even greater flavor in your rice–a simple technique I used with Thai Larb (that recipe is coming very soon). On rare occasions, if I don’t see an immediate use, it goes into the freezer after cooking in a quart container. Frozen cooked rice reheats nicely. There’s a reason Trader Joe’s sells so many boxes–I’ve purchased my fair share!