Jeweled Black Rice Salad

Ingredients

1 cup black rice (I recommend organic “Forbidden Rice”)

1 1/2 lbs peeled cubed butternut squash (about 4 cups)

6 tbsp olive oil divided

1 tbsp date syrup or maple syrup

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt divided, plus more to taste

Pinch of pa

1 cup water

3 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice divided

2 green apples

1 1/2 tbsp honey (substitute date syrup or agave to make vegan)

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Boil 1 3/4 cups water on stovetop. Add the black rice and 1/4 tsp salt, bring back to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Cook the rice for about 30 minutes.

While rice is cooking, in a mixing bowl combine butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tbsp date syrup (or maple syrup), 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, and a small pinch of cayenne. Stir to coat all of the butternut squash pieces evenly.

Spread squash out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, place in the oven, and roast for 10 minutes. Stir the squash, moving the pieces from the outside in and the pieces from the inside out. Roast another 5-15 more minutes, checking every 5 minutes, until the largest pieces are tender and browned on the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

When rice is done cooking, remove from heat and let stand covered for a few minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool to room temperature. If you want to cool it more quickly, transfer it to a cold mixing bowl and continue fluffing with a fork to air it out.

In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of water with 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Slice the green apples in half, cut out the cores with a melon baller, and grate the apple halves into the lemon water. Discard any peel that is left behind after grating. Let the grated apple stand for 3 minutes in the lemon water, then drain.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 tbsp honey, and 1/4 tsp salt. Whisk vigorously while drizzling in 1/4 cup olive oil to create a dressing.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, cooked butternut squash, grated apples, 3/4 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 cup fresh roughly chopped mint, and 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (arils) – if you’re making ahead, save the mint to stir in just before serving. Pour dressing over the ingredients and toss gently with a large spoon until the dressing is well incorporated. Add additional lemon juice or salt to taste.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. I prefer room temperature, the flavors seem to shine best that way. Salad tastes best served within 24 hours, but will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. I do not recommend freezing this dish.

** Recipe courtesy of http://www.toriavey.com

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