I came across this recipe in my Appetite For Reduction vegan cookbook, and immediately thought of my mother, who is obsessed with roasted beets. The original recipe is titled Wild Rice Salad with Oranges and Roasted Beets, but with the price of wild rice hovering around $10.99 a pound, I decided to substitute black rice, which has been generating a lot of buzz lately.  According to ancient Chinese legend, black rice was so rare, tasty, and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it. Like brown rice, black rice is full of antioxidant-rich bran, which is found in the outer layer that gets removed during the milling process to make white rice. But only black-rice bran contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, purple and reddish pigments — also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai — that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits. According to a study by the American Chemical Society (ACS), “one spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries and better yet, black rice offers more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants, but less sugar.” And I bought a pound of it at my local grocery store for $2.99. The roasted beets bring out the purple color of the black rice to make a beautiful summer salad. This one’s for you, Mom.

Black Rice and Roasted Beet Salad

  • 2 cups cooked black rice, cooled (one cup of dry rice makes about 2 cups cooked)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups red leaf lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces (next time I’ll try spinach)
  • 1 10.5oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, white or black
  • 1 lb roasted tin foil beets, cooled
Orange Sesame Vinaigrette
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (from 2 large naval oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, like Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon microplaned or finely minced ginger

  1. To Roast Beets: If using small beets, say golf ball size, then don’t bother to peel. (The peels will slide off easily when cooked.) Just slice in half, wrap in tin foil, place in baking dish and roast. But if using big beets that you’re more likely to find in January and February, peel them and then slice top down into segments (like orange slices) that are about ¾ of an inch thick at their widest. Then, keeping all the slices together in a neat package, place on tin foil and wrap so that it can easily be unfolded from the top. Roasting times vary, but do at least an hour at 400 F. They’re ready when easily pierced with a fork. Be careful when handling, because there will be a lot of red beet juice ready to drizzle out.
  2. Then toast the sesame seeds. Preheat a small, heavy bottomed pan over low/medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir often for about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to toss continuously for another minute or so, until they are varying shades of toasty brown. Remove from pan ASAP to prevent burning.
  3. Mix together the Orange Sesame Vinaigrette. Pour the dressing into a large mixing bowl. Add black rice, dried cranberries and lettuce. Using tongs, toss to coat. Add mandarin oranges and sesame seeds, and toss again. Lastly, fold in the beets. Serve. (The salad will become a deeper purple color the longer it sits.)