Asian Black Rice Salad

A stunning salad made from forbidden rice, crisp snap peas, juicy red grapefruit and finished with a ginger lime vinaigrette. Not only is forbidden rice loaded with antioxidants, but it also cooks in half the time of brown rice! Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>


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.

Asian Black Rice Salad // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan &amp; Gluten Free

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.

Asian Black Rice Salad // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan &amp; Gluten Free




  • 1 cup black rice, uncooked

  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil

  • 2 cups sugar snap peas (225 g/8 oz)

  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage

  • 2 grapefruits (ideally ruby red), cut into segments

  • 3 green onions, chopped (green portions only)

  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

  • Optional - Asian Oven Baked Tofu (recipe below)

Ginger lime vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon tamari (gluten-free if needed) or soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


  1. To cook rice: In a pot, add rice and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover pot with a lid. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 2 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, then transfer to a colander/strainer and rinse rice with cold water. Shake thoroughly to let all excess water strain out.

  2. Prepare rest of salad: Meanwhile while the rice cooks, prepare your vegetables. Cut the ends off the sugar snap peas. Heat up a skillet pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil, then saute snap peas for 2 minutes. Transfer snap peas to a large serving bowl, along with the purple cabbage, grapefruit, green onions and cilantro. Once the rice is cooked and rinsed, add it to the bowl as well.

  3. Assemble: Mix your vinaigrette by combining lime juice, tamari, neutral oil, rice vinegar, ginger and toasted sesame oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad, toss and serve. Top with baked tofu, if desired.





  • 1 block of extra-firm tofu (350g/12.3 oz)

  • 1 tablespoon tamari (gluten-free if needed) or soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)

  • 1 tablespoon Asian hot sauce (e.g. sriracha)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut tofu into small cubes (1 cm or ½”). Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

  2. While tofu bakes, whisk together tamari, maple syrup and Asian hot sauce in a medium-sized bowl. Remove tofu from oven, toss in the sauce, and use a slotted spoon to transfer tofu back to baking sheet. Reserve extra sauce. Bake tofu for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and re-toss in sauce prior to serving.