This dish was created for the Decadent Eight Course Vegan Tasting Menu for The Illuminati Ball (see above photo), but it’s also morphed into a simple and excellent every day lunch salad (see photo below)!
I wanted to replace the Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Sweet Sriracha Lime Sauce on the menu for the with a vegetable that was a little more appropriate for Springtime. Everyone loved this brussel sprout dish and was determined to find a replacement that worked just as well in the context of the entire menu. So, I needed a substantial cooked green vegetable with a red sauce that had some heat, sweetness and tang.
I tested out a vegan red thai coconut curry that was delicious but way too labour intensive (remember this dish is only one of eight courses). I tried keeping the sauce the same and changing up the vegetables but asparagus and sugar snap peas didn’t hold onto the sauce well. Finally, I hit upon using broccolini. Broccolini is also sometimes called young broccoli but really it is a cross between broccoli and the asian green vegetable kai-lan. It’s also sometimes called Asparation because although it is not related to asparagus has long, tender asparagus like edible stalks. It also looks a bit like broccoli raab but has a totally different flavor (raab is delicious, but quite bitter). The broccolini florets charred up nicely and all of the nooks and crevices held the sauce beautifully! I decided to add some black forbidden rice as well because broccolini is less substantial than brussel sprouts. Also, I enjoyed eating black rice on a recent trip to Shanghai and would like to use it more in my cooking. It’s sweeter in flavor than regular rice and very beautiful. Finally, I changed up the garnishes, replacing the cilantro with crispy fried shallots, peanuts and, later in the summer, roasted corn. Brussel sprouts are much sweeter than broccolini and the shallots put some of that savory vegetable sugar back in the mix. Fried shallots are available in Asian grocery stores or specialty shops such as Kalustyan’s. They’re usually on the same shelf as the Thai and Vietnamese condiments. You could also deep fry some shallots or red onions yourself, but if you can find the prepared ones they are a cheap luxury. I love tossing them on top of green salads instead of croutons. If you are gluten-free be sure to read the ingredient list. Most only contain shallots or red onions and oil, but some have wheat flour as well.
For the Illuminati Ball we plate a Tablespoon each of the rice and the sauce, three charred broccolini florets and a teaspoon each of the peanuts, shallots and corn. Any leftover stems get chopped and tossed with the leftover rice and sauce and some of the garnishes for the cast to snack on after the show. At home, I’ve just been tossing the whole lot together as a salad.
CHARRED BROCCOLINI WITH BLACK FORBIDDEN RICE AND SWEET SPICY LIME SAUCE
- 1 and 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup black forbidden rice
- pinch of salt
- 6 Tablespoons honey, Lyle’s Golden Syrup or agave
- 2 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce
- 2 Tablespoon lime juice
- 2 bunches of broccolini (about 14 oz)
- About a tablespoon of mild oil
- 2 big pinches of flakey salt, such as maldone
- 1/3 cup fried shallots or red onions
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 ear of corn, roasted over a fire until blackened, kernels cut off (optional)
- Bring the water, rice and a pinch of salt to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and continue cooking over very low heat for 30 minutes. Test the rice. It should be soft but not sticky. If needed, let it steam for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the rice to rest with the lid still on for 15-20 minutes.
- While the rice cooks, combine the honey or syrup with Sriracha Sauce and lime juice and whisk until the ingredients are combined.
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and trim the broccolini. Toss them with the oil and spread them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle the florets with flakey salt. Roast the broccolini for 8 minutes. It should be tender and green with a nice char on the florets where they were touching the roasting pan. Flip and roast for 2 more minutes if needed. Chop the florets off and set them aside. Chop the stems in short lengths.
- If you are plating the food in a fancy way, drop a tablespoon of sauce in each bowl. Heap a tablespoon with black rice and then compress it until the rice is level in the spoon. Drop the rice ball on top of the sauce. Arange three charred broccoli florets to the side of the rice. Pile a teaspoon of roasted peanuts (and a teaspoon of corn kernels if you are using them) on the stems of the florets and a teaspoon of fried shallots on top of that. If you are making a salad to serve family style, toss the stems, rice and dressing and garnish the salad with the charred florets, roasted peanuts and fried shallots.
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