When I first discovered Ally and her incredible site, Loveleaf co., I felt we were kindred spirits (I, too, share a passion for the power of the salad) and just knew she had to write for us. Ally has a way of transforming a salad from a side to the only thing you want to eat … ever. Her creativity is limitless, and she has even challenged MY perceptions of how far a salad can go as a food gift–it’s really, really far, folks.
The entire Eat Boutique team is thrilled to welcome Ally aboard as our Greens Guru, if you will. I mean, just look at this incredibly-beautiful Black Rice Salad, and those Pickled Cherries (managing editor Kate swooned, I swear). I know I can’t wait to see what she does next.
To me, there’s something alluring about black rice. Maybe because it’s moniker is “Forbidden Rice,” said to have once been eaten exclusively by the Emperors of China. Or maybe it’s the deep purple color. Or it could be because of the salads you can make with it. Inherently filling, layered with flavor and texture, black rice salads always seem like a celebration. These are the kind of salads I live for (literally: I have ato prove it). Salads that leave me feeling satisfied and nourished. Salads that I can bring to a party and get told “I need this recipe”; ones that change a person’s perspective of what a “salad” can be.
This black rice salad with pickled cherries, charred corn, and hazelnuts is just that type of salad. The kind you can’t stop eating. The kind that, perhaps with a little added protein, could be a meal in and of itself. Nutty, sweet, smoky, crunchy, and fresh; the flavors and textures are exciting, each bite a little different from the last. And the pickled cherries! They’re the crown jewels of the dish, like little bursts of summer in all their sweet and tart glory.
I love to bring this black rice salad to summer parties because it can be prepped ahead of time and even gets better overnight in the fridge (#winning). Just keep the mint and toasted hazelnuts separate and add to the salad right before serving. And since this recipe calls for only half of the pickled cherries, bring the extra pint for the host or hostess as a gift. Since the cherries are so vibrant, I like to keep the gift wrapping simple: pickle the cherries in classic mason jars and use a bit of gold twine to attach the black rice salad recipe to the jar. Because they’re going to want that recipe.
Ally Milligan is a Boston-based multimedia producer and salad-obsessive at Loveleaf Co., a site encouraging health and mindfulness through the simple habit of eating one salad a day. See how easy it is to incorporate this healthy practice into your life by joining Loveleaf Co.’s free 7 Day Salad Reset.
All ceramics (except for the bowl in overhead shot of cherries) made by Myrth Ceramics, Boston, MA.
Pickled Cherries + Black Rice Salad with Pickled Cherries, Charred Corn, and Hazelnuts
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients:FOR THE PICKLED CHERRIES
- 1 pound cherries, pitted and stems removed
- 11/2 cups white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 1/3 cups dry black rice (aka Forbidden Rice)
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts
- 4 ears of corn, husked
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the corn
- 1/2 pound pickled cherries (1 pint which is half of the recipe above)
- 1/2 cup mint, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup cherry pickling brine
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Sea salt, to taste
Directions:MAKE THE PICKLED CHERRIES
- Place pitted cherries in 2 heatproof pint jars. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour over cherries and let cool. Cover and chill.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the rice: Combine 1 1/3 cups water, 1 1/3 cups black rice and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand covered for a few minutes and set aside.
- Once the oven is preheated, toast the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, coarsely chop, and set aside.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, fresh orange juice, cherry pickling brine, olive oil, lemon zest, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Add salt to taste and set aside.
- Char the corn: Prepare a grill or grill pan for medium heat. Brush ears of corn with a bit of oil and grill, turning occasionally, until charred and blackened in spots, about 10 minutes. Let cool and cut kernels from the cobs.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl mix together the cooked black rice, charred corn, pickled cherries, and dressing. Add hazelnuts and mint right before serving and season with more salt to taste.
- Lasts up to 4 days in the fridge.
- Mason jars
- Gold twine
- Place the pickled cherries in mason jars. Jot down the recipe on a tag with a small note. Wrap a couple layers of gold twine around the top with a tag looped through.
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