All too often when I think of rice and dinner, it’s usually basmati or risotto that springs to mind. But occasionally, when my protein is unusual, like spice-encrusted tuna, something with more verve and bite is needed. Always on the lookout for new and unusual starches, I brought home a bag of red Camargue and wild rice mix from my local Spinney’s grocery store the other day. Wild rice, I’m familiar with but I had never heard of red Camargue. Turns out that it is a new breed (type? species? variety?) of rice that is being cultivated in the south of France in an area called, not surprisingly, Camargue. A little quick research reveals that the Camargue region of Provence grows a wide variety of rice, of which the red is only one, and it produces 75 percent of all the rice grown in France. Who knew? What I do know is that its nutty flavor and chewy texture make a beautiful rice salad.
I’ve learned from experience that colored rice, in general, needs a much longer cooking time than white rice, so I cooked this stuff in a big pot of salted boiling water, much as you would pasta, checking a grain or two periodically after 20 minutes, until the rice reached an acceptable cooked, yet still chewy, texture, which took closer to 30 or 35 minutes. Then I turned the fire off, strained off the water and put the rice back in the hot pot with the lid tightly closed for another 10-15 minutes.
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Small handful green onion tops
Small handful cilantro or fresh coriander
1/2 small yellow bell pepper or capsicum
1 ripe avocado
Cook your rice mix as described above or according to your package instructions. Set aside to cool.
Roughly chop your green onion tops and cilantro. Cut your bell pepper into small, skinny strips.
Put your balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a bowl big enough to hold the whole salad. Add in the bell pepper slices and a good pinch of sea salt and a good couple of grinds of fresh black pepper. Mix well.
Once the cooked rice is cool, add it to the bowl.
Add in the onion tops and cilantro and give the whole thing a good stir.
Right before serving, peel and chop your avocado and fold it into the salad.
This is delicious straight as it is from the bowl, but I served this tasty rice salad as a full meal, heaped on some leafy greens with extra avocado and topped with fresh spice-encrusted tuna steak, which had been seared then sliced thinly. Recipe and instructions for the tuna are right here.