Over the millennia, people have sought out white rice and other highly polished grains as a sign of wealth and prestige, regarding whole grains as food for the poor. Well, it turns out the impoverished were getting all the flavor and nutrition.
So it is with this Indian-inspired dish, in which unprocessed brown rice teams with cauliflower roasted with cumin and turmeric. The rice that personal chef Ed Bruske prefers, Lundberg Wehani from Lundberg Family Farms in Richvale, Calif., is worth seeking out. (It's available at Whole Foods Markets, Balducci's and some area food co-ops). It has a deep chestnut color, rich flavor and easy texture.
A possible substitute would be red rice. Conventional brown rice comes in a distant third in my book.
This dish can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in a tightly sealed container.
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cored and split into small florets
- Some extra-virgin olive oil for coating the cauliflower, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 1/4 cups unprocessed brown rice, such as Lundberg Wehani (may substitute red rice, such as Lotus Foods' Bhutanese Red Rice)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped unroasted unsalted cashews
- 1/3 cup seedless dark raisins
- 1/3 cup dried unsulphured unsweetened apricots, diced
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup coarsely chopped mint
- 1/2 lemon (juice only, 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Position an oven rack on the upper level and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Have ready a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with just enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt. Dust the cauliflower with cumin and turmeric and combine thoroughly. Spread the florets on the baking sheet and roast, turning the cauliflower once or twice so it doesn't burn, for about 25 minutes, or until the florets are cooked through and deeply browned in places. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a kettle of water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so the water stays hot. Place the brown rice, adding a generous pinch of salt, in a small saucepan. Cover with hot water from the kettle to a depth of half an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook gently for about 45 minutes, checking frequently and adding a splash or two of hot water as needed, up to a cup or so in total. The rice is done when the water has been completely absorbed and the grains are plump and tender. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the roasted florets, cooked rice, cashews, raisins, apricots, cilantro and mint. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Adjust salt and add pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Adapted from Ed Bruske, a personal chef and freelance writer.
Tested by Randy Richter.
Email questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.