Salad of the Month: Valentine's Day Pink and Red Salad

Chocolate and sweets are the usual Valentine's Day foods, but it's also possible to take a savory approach to mark the day, especially if you play with color. Here, the familiar rich red and pink tones of the holiday come through from the vegetables, which get an exotic deep purple background of black rice plus a snowy-white dab of goat cheese.

Black rice cooks up surprisingly light and fluffy, absorbs any flavors easily and goes well with just about anything you add to it. I use white balsamic vinegar here to give the rice a touch of sweetness that pairs beautifully with the tangy fresh goat cheese, bright pickled radishes and slight bitterness of the deep red leaves of treviso. The salad may sound like a few too many steps to consider making on a weeknight, but believe me, once the pickles are made and the rice is cooked, it's a simple assembly with striking results sure to impress.

Valentine's Day Pink and Red Salad

Serves 2

For the best pink color, pickle the radishes the day before you want to serve the salad. Both the black rice and the pickled radishes will make more than you'll need for 2 servings, but the pickles keep weeks (in the fridge) and the black rice can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Note: If you forget to soak the rice, increase the cooking water to 1¼ cups.

For the pickled radishes:
8 medium red radishes
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
For the forbidden black rice:
½ cup forbidden black rice, soaked overnight in 2 cups water
¾ cup water
Pinch sea salt
For the salad:
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
2 teaspoons chopped chives
4 to 6 treviso leaves
2 oz fresh goat cheese
Chopped chives
Radish sprouts

Make the pickles: Cut radishes into 8 wedges and place in a medium bowl. Add apple cider vinegar and salt, and toss to combine. Set aside for a few hours, stirring every now and then to give them an even color. Transfer to a jar and place in the fridge overnight, or up to 2 weeks.

Make the rice: Drain and rinse the rice. Place in a small pot and add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before removing lid and fluffing with a fork.

Make the salad: Place 1 cup of cooked rice (warm or room temperature) in a medium bowl and add olive oil, vinegar, a pinch of salt and chives. Toss to combine and add more salt to taste. Arrange treviso leaves into 2 bowls and top with ½ cup of rice each. Divide cheese between bowls and scatter about 6 pieces of pickled radishes over each salad. Sprinkle with chives and sprouts.

Photo by Stephen Johnson

Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.

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