Delicious, Fun & Healthy Food

Black Rice, Chickpeas and Asparagus Salad

SaladLina LiwagComment

I first tasted black rice when I went home to the Philippines  last year and visited  my brother Bobby and his wife Joyce.  As a couple with 2 young children, they are also pursuing  a healthy way of eating and have replaced white rice with this exciting variety.

Black rice is widely grown in Asia.  It used to be called “forbidden rice” in China centuries ago and was believed  that only nobles were allowed to eat it.  This type of rice is unpolished, the outer husk being intact and is rich in  antioxidant called anthocyanin.   Anthocyanin is responsible for the red, purple and blue colours present in vegetables, grains and fruits like blueberries or blackberries. Health experts say it’s a cancer fighter and  helps prevent  heart disease and improves memory. 

When black rice is cooked, its colour turns into deep purple and has a delicious, chewy and nutty taste.  It’s  a great source of fiber, niacin, thiamin, magnesium and iron among other things.   Cooking takes longer than regular rice and soaking it for several hours or even overnight is recommended for better digestibility.  However, if you are pressed with time, it can be cooked right away after rinsing it a few times.  Use 2 cups of water for every cup of black rice and it cooks for about 45 minutes  Soaked rice would cook up to 30 mins.  One cup of black rice will yield just short of 4 cups.

In this dish, it is being paired with chickpeas.   Chickpeas are ever present in my pantry. They are so versatile….you can  add them in salads and can make  soups, stews, dips and even  salad  dressings out of them. A cup of these goodies contain 15 g of protein!  


Black Rice, Chickpeas and Asparagus Salad


2 c. cooked black rice

2 c.  cooked chickpeas

2 1/2 bundles of asparagus, about 3 cups

1 c. radicchio, washed, dried and sliced finely

1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1/4 c. coriander leaves, finely chopped

3 T. minced red onions 

1/3 c. lightly toasted sunflower seeds

1 carrot, julienned

1/4 c. dried cranberries


1 1/2 T. cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

2 t. toasted sesame seed oil

juice of 1 lime

1 1/2 t. grated ginger

2 T. braggs liquid aminos

1 1/2  T. maple syrup

pinch of black pepper



  1. Remove the hard ends of the asparagus, wash and cut them into 1 1/2 “ long.  Boil water and blanch them for 2 minutes and drain through a wire sieve.  Set aside. 
  2. Place all the ingredients of the dressing into a jar and with the lid secure, shake well to incorporate.
  3. Toast the sunflower seeds in either the toaster oven or skillet making sure to watch closely as it can easily get overdone.
  4. In a big salad or mixing bowl, put all the salad ingredients except for 1/2 of the coriander leaves and the sunflower seeds.  Pour about 1/2 of the salad dressing and toss the mixture making sure  that the dressing is well incorporated.  Adjust the taste and add more dressing if needed.   Garnish with the rest of the coriander and top with sunflower seed.  Enjoy!

 It was rice planting season in my hometown when I went home to visit last year and it it brought me back to many  childhood memories.   These rice fields were just behind our home and these folks are either relatives or neighbours doing the hard work very early in the morning.  The variety being planted here is usually known in the North American grocery store as white jasmine rice or white milagrosa rice.  As a little child growing up in this agricultural corner of the world, little did I know that  there would be so many varieties of rice out there.  Black rice - who knew?