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nutty brown rice salad with a garlic, ginger and lime dressing 

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This nutty brown rice salad had been a favourite of mine for over 20 years now and was published in my second cookbook. This is one of those recipes though, where the measurements need to be made exact. I have thrown in extra nuts or seeds etc before and it comes out too dry. So sticking to the recipe for this one will give you the best results. You can make a double batch of it if you are into meal prepping as it makes a great lunch to take with you on the go. Or serve it as a main meal with grilled chicken, or teriyaki salmon, and lots of leafy greens on the side.  It's also the perfect thing to take to along to a potluck or BBQ - and being vegan, it suits a crowd. I love the almost chewy brown rice base to this salad - and because brown rice is a whole grain complex carbohydrate, it's super nutritious. It's also high in fibre so it's more filling than a 'simple carb', and we can digest this a lot slower.  Such a good grain to try and eat more of. And this salad is even easier to throw together at the end if you have roasted seeds and peanuts on hand. I always have jars of these in the pantry - they last for months! See my instructions below for this recipe on how I like to do this. 
Time: 15 minutes preparation|40 minutes cooking | 2-24 hours to marinate 
Serves: 4-5 as a side dish  


For the salad 

1 cup brown rice  
1¾ cup cold water  
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce 
1 small red onion, finely diced 
1 red capsicum, finely diced  
½ cup currants  
½ cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts 
½ cup toasted sunflower seeds 
½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds  
¼ cup sesame seeds - I used a mix of black and white

For the dressing
1/2 cup peanut or olive oil  

¼ cup lime juice (or lemon juice or 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar) 

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed  

2 teaspoons grated ginger 

2 teaspoons soy sauce  

2 teaspoons runny honey 

Place the rice and 1¾ cups water into a medium-size pot, cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Alternatively, can also cook this in a rice cooker. When I do this I do 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water. When the rice is cooked, add the tamari (or soy sauce), red onion, capsicum and currants and stir well. Leave to sit for 2 hours, but preferably overnight. At this stage, you can make the dressing recipe below, and keep it in the fridge until required.  

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients with a good pinch of salt and pepper, either by shaking in a jar or if you want a thicker more emulsified dressing, blend it in a blender. Taste and see if the dressing needs more seasoning or lime juice. Keeps for 3 days in the fridge.   

Just before you are ready to serve, add the remaining ingredients, the roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds and the dressing and toss well. Taste and season if needed. 

how to roast seeds
and nuts 

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Photo credit: @bonny.beattie

Roasted seeds 

I always have roasted seeds on hand that I put into almost all my salads, I even top my breakfast with them sometimes, like overnight oats etc.  I roast a large batch all at once then store them in an airtight container so that I am only doing it every so often, rather than every time I have to use them. I buy seeds in bulk (from Moore Wilsons) so that it is more economical and time-effective. My favourite combo is pumpkin and sunflower seeds and because pumpkin seeds are more expensive, I will do a 1/3 – 2/3 ratio with these. Roasting seeds in the oven as opposed to in a frying pan gives you a much better flavour. You can use the technic below for all types of seeds and nuts.  
To roast seeds 
250g pumpkin seeds  
500g sunflower seeds 
Preheat oven to 180°C. Take two large trays (with sides) and scatter the seeds out over top. The seeds roast better if the trays are NOT lined with baking paper. Roast for 10 minutes, to begin with, rotating the trays once and toss the seeds in the corners of the trays as these usually brown first. Continue to roast until they are either light brown or deep brown, depending on how you like them. Cool, and store in an airtight container.  
Roasted crushed peanuts 
I garnish lots of my Asian inspired dishes with roasted peanuts and I also use them in my Mussaman curry paste or as a topping on banana splits. As with the seeds above, I like to do these in bulk so that I have them on hand when I need them.  
To roast peanuts 
500g unsalted blanched peanuts 
Preheat oven to 180°C. Scatter the peanuts over a large tray with sides and roast for 10 minutes until golden brown, tossing a few times during cooking so that the peanuts on the edges of the tray don’t burn. Cook until the peanuts are golden brown. When done, cool completely as they won’t crush properly if hot. You can crush them quickly in a food processor but I find you get lots of fine crumbs and large chunky bits, and you want the texture in between this. I pound the peanuts in batches in a mortar and pestle until the peanuts are crushed but not too fine. Store in an airtight container - they will keep for months.  

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