Saturday, June 5, 2010

Good Good Green: Green Rice with Cilantro Pesto

So, my parents are coming back this weekend from their 2-month long trip to the far East. Being the good daughter that I am, I told myself that there would be 3 things that I would definitely clean while they were gone: my clothing pile/shelf, in a bit of a disarray and in transition to my new place, my "book/CD/backpack/work/study" area (I won't even go there with you!), and my baking cupboard. Well, I am proud to say that I have semi-accomplished all three.

The most interesting cleaning adventure was of course, the baking cupboard, which contained many things that were not even remotely related to baking. But, in the midst of the sorting and throwing and bagging, I came across something really unusual: green rice. It was a stunning shade of jade green, very short grains, and even uncooked, had a really nutty fragrance. I came up empty after a quick search on the internet: none of the descriptions of "green rice" came up correct when I typed it into Google. But then, while at St. Lawrence Market one weekend, I spotted my mysterious green rice at Rube's Rice. It was called Jade Pearl: a pearled rice infused with bamboo extracts. According to the label, it's supposed to be super healthy and rich in anti-oxidants. I couldn't wait to try it.

I wanted to pair it up with more green goodness, and when I remembered the huge bunch of cilantro sitting the fridge waiting to be used up, I decided to make a cilantro pesto. I was scared at first, so I ran the idea by my culinarily-minded partner, who thought it was "interesting .. " That was enough to get me going. I did a bit of research and found an easy, healthy-looking recipe over at Simply Recipes. It contained no cheese, instead of pine nuts, it called for almonds, and some red onion and hot pepper to kick up the flavour. Interesting indeed. I added lime juice and zest and gave it a spin in the mini-food chopper. Delicious. The almonds really worked well with the cilantro, neutralizing that unique flavour that can sometimes be over-powering. It reminded me a little of guacamole, but without the intense richness of the avocado; instead, it was fresh-tasting and zingy from the hot pepper and lime. It made the perfect dressing to that beautiful green rice and some broccoli to kick the green factor over the top. A perfect supper on a hot summer-like evening. Green is gooooooooooooooooooood.

Green Rice Salad with Cilantro Pesto
(pesto recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)

1 cup of cilantro leaves, not packed
1 large handful of roasted, unsalted almonds
2 tablespoon of chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon of chopped jalapeno pepper, seeds and pith removed
juice and zest of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 cup of uncooked Jade Pearl rice (or use any kind of rice you like)
1 cup of broccoli crowns

1. Rinse the rice and put it in a pot with about 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, uncovered and give it a good stir. Bring the heat down to low, cover and let it cook. When it's almost done (about 10 minutes), add in the broccoli crowns to steam. Remove from the heat after about 5-6 more minutes and let it cool.

2. Make the pesto by putting the cilantro, red onion, almonds, jalapeno, lime juice and zest, salt and pepper into a mini chopper or food processor. Pulse a few times to get everything chopped. While it's running, slowly add in the olive oil. Give it a taste and add more salt, pepper or oil to your liking.

3. In a large bowl, toss the rice and broccoli with the pesto. Serve with additional lime wedges if desire.

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