After my fifth trip to the store, in search of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, I was ready to admit to a surprising realization. Grapefruit is one of my favorite fruits. I know, I know...of ALL the fruits out there (including some pretty sexy ones like mango, pineapple and raspberries), I pick a boring grapefruit. And it’s taken me multiple decades to accept it.
The transition between summer and fall can often a confusing one. Some nights we crave light summer dishes, and other times all I want to do is dig into a comforting plate of cozy. It’s also at this time of year when my grandma starts gearing up to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I have to admit I don’t know much about what this entails, but I do know it means her house will be packed full of mooncakes and pomelos. If pomelos are new to you, they look like a giant grapefruit, but have a milder and slightly sweeter taste. And while I never grew to love more than a bite or two of mooncake, I could devour heaps of pomelo.
Citrus adds a nice pop of flavor and acidity to savory dishes. This Asian Black Rice Salad dish is perfect for this time of year, because it’s more substantial than a lettuce based salad, while still feeling light and refreshing. For this recipe, I chose red grapefruits because of how easy they are to find in store (and that color!). But if you happen to get your hands on some pomelo, you could definitely try that instead. For pretty slices, you can segment your grapefruit by cutting out the flesh from the membrane. This tutorial from TheKitchn is a helpful guide on how to segment any type of citrus fruit.
The base of this salad is made from black rice, also known as forbidden rice. This ancient grain is said to have been revered by Chinese emperors back in the day, but I like to use it because it’s full of antioxidants - and better yet, it takes half as long to cook as brown rice. To round out the salad, I like to add crunchy veggies like quickly sauteed snap peas and a handful (or two) of thinly sliced cabbage. We always have a small head of purple cabbage on hand, so that’s what I used; but you could easily swap it for green cabbage instead. The great thing about cabbage is that it holds up well in the fridge, so your salad will still have some crunch the next day.
For a more substantial meal, you could serve this rice salad with crispy cubes of baked tofu. The recipe below is one of our weeknight go-tos. Baking tofu in the oven is a great hands-free way to get crisp tofu, without the fryer. Toss the tofu in the three ingredient sauce, and you’ve got yourself some banging salty-sweet-spicy glazed bites. We typically make a double batch and keep the extras to add into weekday salads, bowls, or to simply eat straight from the fridge.
Citrus Ginger Black Rice Salad
- 1 cup forbidden rice (black rice)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided (or other neutral oil)
- 8 oz snap peas (about 2¼ cups)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 2 grapefruits, cut into segments (see note 1)
- 3 scallions/green onions, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
Oven Baked Tofu (optional)
- 12 oz extra-firm tofu, cubed (½-inch)
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
- Cook rice: Rinse rice in a sieve under cold running water for 30 seconds. Drain thoroughly. Add rice and water to a medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then immediately cover with a lid, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and rice is tender. Keep lid on, remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes to steam.
- Cook snap peas: Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add snap peas, and sauté until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Mix dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, tamari, the remaining 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, rice vinegar, ginger, and sesame oil.
- Assemble: To the large serving bowl, add cabbage, grapefruit, scallions, cilantro, and cooked rice. Drizzle with dressing, toss to coat. Top with Oven Baked Tofu or serve it on the side (if using).
Oven Baked Tofu (optional, see note 2)
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Bake tofu: Scatter tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown (but not firm), about 20 minutes.
- Coat tofu and bake: Whisk together Sriracha, tamari, and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Add baked tofu, toss to coat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer tofu back to the baking sheet (reserve extra liquid). Bake for 10 minutes until tofu is crisp. Toss tofu in remaining sauce prior to serving.
- How to segment grapefruit: To segment ("supreme") a grapefruit, cut off the top and bottom so the fruit sits flat on a cutting board. Then, cut off the peel and pith, by cutting down the curve of the grapefruit (from top to bottom). Finally, cut in between each fruit segment, leaving behind the tough membrane.
- Oven baked tofu (timing tip): If making the tofu, put it in the oven once the rice is on the stove.
- Nutritional estimate includes the oven baked tofu.