What’s not tempting about a name like forbidden rice? If you’ve never tried it before, it is a special treat. I like to eat it because it makes me feel subversive. Originally in China, only the emperor could eat black rice, so it was called forbidden.
It’s a deep, beautiful black rice that will tint your wooden spoon purple while you mix and cook it. The flavor is much richer and more nutty than brown rice. Hardcore white-rice-only-please people will become converts. Its price, which for rice, a world staple, is high, is still doable for special occasions or small meals for two.
I paired the fancy forbidden rice with some cheap meat and greens. Just kidding, well, not totally. Here’s how that previous sentence could be rewritten: I wanted to highlight the black rice’s nuttiness by contrasting it with spicy sausage. To add some color and vitamins, I also included some forest-green collards. On a whim, I also added sweet potatoes to steam with the rice. They turned a little purple on the edges, but generally maintained their color.
The end plate was a riot of color: deep purple-black of the rice, bright orange of the sweet potatoes, earthy green of the collards, and tan bits of sausage. Sausage and collards was plain, but the black rice and sweet potatoes transformed the dinner like Cinderella going to the ball.
-12-ounce bag prepped collards
-8 ounce bag spicy Italian sausage
-5 cloves garlic, minced
(not pictured black rice, sweet potatoes)
1. In a medium saucepan, cook the rice according to directions. It’s usually about 1:1 ration rice to water. USE WATER; the rice has such a strong flavor, I’ve found that sometimes using broth clashes with the rice’s natural nuttiness. Bring water/rice to a boil; cover and cook for 20 minutes. After about ten minutes, add small pieces of sweet potato to steam cook with the rice.
2. In a large saute pan, cook the sausage, breaking it up into small bits. Set aside in a bowl. Don’t throw away the excess grease in the pan, it’ll give the collards a flavor-kick.
3. Wile those juices release more, add minced shallot to the pan. Saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for about 1-2 more minutes. Add the entire bag of pre-washed, pre-chopped collards. I told you this was easy. If you feel inclined, wash the collards before you put them to cook.
4. Cook the collards for about 7-10 minutes, until they begin to wilt and turn a brilliant green. It’s nature’s way of saying, “I’m perfectly done, just a little crispy, just a little wilted.”
5. Add the sausage and ALL accumulated juices back to the pan, mix together.
6. Scoop out rice with some sweet potato pieces, then ladle on the side some spicy sausage and collards.