Persian Rice Salad with Cherries
Here's a recent recipe I've written as part of a series of seasonal vegan salads for Great British Chefs. Each month I use a favourite seasonal ingredient, and create a hearty vegan salad. In July I chose to celebrate Great British Cherries... You can see the full series here.
British cherries at this time of year are absolutely delectable, so sweet and juicy, hands down my favourite fruit! I’m working them into all manner of savoury dishes and salads as well as sweet ones. This salad has fast become a summer favourite – it’s sweet and tangy, thanks to the cherries and pomegranate molasses, crunchy and refreshing thanks to the cucumber and fresh herbs, and wholesome and satiating thanks to the wholegrain rice.
We enjoyed it most recently with charred aubergine, tahini sauce and some spicy fermented turnip – a truly delectable al fresco dinner! It’s a great one if you are having guests over as it can be fully made in advance. In fact this is a little tastier, as the rice will absorb more of the dressing, and any juices that will seep from the cherries.
This recipe serves 4 people.
75g wholegrain rice (1/2 cup)
1 red onion, finely sliced
200g cherries, halved and de-stoned
2 baby cucumber (or 1 regular)
14g mint (or a generous handful)
14g dill (or a generous handful)
14g flat leaf parsley (or a generous handful)
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon of sumac
50g pine nuts, toasted
Cover the rice with cold water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 18-22 minutes, until cooked.
Drain the rice through a sieve or colander and rinse with a little cold water. Allow the steam to billow off as much as possible, to avoid a heavy salad.
While the rice is cooling combine the sliced onion, halved and de-stoned cherries, sumac, pomegranate molasses and olive oil in a bowl. Add a generous amount of sea salt andmix well.
Chop the cucumber into thing rounds; (if you are using a regular cucumber perhaps remove it’s watery core).
Finely chop the herbs.
In a large mixing bowl combine the rice, cucumber, herbs, toasted pine nuts, and the cherry & onion medley along with all the juice and dressing. Toss gently and the transfer into a serving dish.
Garnish with a few extra herbs, and some za’atar, and finally squeeze over the juice of half a lemon to brighten that first mouthful.