Rice based salads make a great summer’s day lunch: easy to put together, refreshing and and nutritious. And not just summer, its warming on a chill winter evening and just right when its pouring with rain. The Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus that I made last week was delicious and everyone at home loved it. It is a versatile salad and you could make it with vegetables of your choice. I like to add roasted tomatoes to salads as the roasting brings out the flavours of the tomatoes. A few spears of asparagus roasted with the tomatoes, added colour and texture to the Salad.
Rice is now becoming my go to for a robust and healthy meal without too much effort to make and I have been experimenting with different types of rice. You will be seeing the results of these experiments in the Healthy Rice Salad series that I’m now writing, the Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus being the first one in the series. Actually it is the second, as I have this recipe for a really gorgeous Black Rice Salad with Cranberry & Orange Dressing, elsewhere on the blog. This is the link to the recipe Black Rice Salad if you want to check it out.
In my bid to reduce weight and to manage sugar levels, I have greatly reduced my intake of rice – from twice a day to once or twice a week. And instead of the regular white rice which was part of my diet for so many decades, even the occasional rice dish that I make is with brown or black rice. Brown rice gives itself easily to the flavours of the vegetables that you add to them, without overpowering the other flavours with their personality.
How to cook Brown Rice?
Brown rice takes more time to be cooked than white rice. It has to be cooked correctly so that the grains are soft and yet separate without becoming a gooey mush. My daughter Lakshmi whom I am presently visiting at Connecticut, USA, suggested that I spread the hot cooked rice on a plate so that it cools down before being added to the salad, and the grains don’t get sticky and clumped together. I prefer long grained brown rice as they cook well into separate grains. Soaking the grain before cooking reduces cooking time and also improves the nutritional values. I soak the rice for about 45 minutes before cooking it, and then allow it to cook for about 30 minutes till it is just done without being soggy and all the water has been absorbed. More details are given in the recipe below.
Long grained brown rice is better for salads as short grained ones get more mushy. Cooking times and methods below are for long grained rice. Cooking times also assume that the tomatoes are roasted at the same time that the rice is cooking.
Health Benefits in Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus
This Salad is almost bursting with both taste and nutrition.
Brown Rice itself is an unpolished rice grain and therefore holds the nutritious benefits of rice which we lose to a significant extent with the milled polished white version which looks so good on our tables. It helps reduce obesity and contains manganese which helps to synthesise body fats. Brown rice contains antioxidant enzymes which helps to increase HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol). It has a high fibre content as well as contains various essential minerals as well as important vitamins and proteins. It is rich in folate which is required by pregnant women.
Brown rice has a low glycemic index which helps in controlling blood sugar levels. It helps in maintaining cholesterol levels. It contains strong antioxidants which can maintain cardiovascular health. It is a superfood and the list of health benefits and diseases it can act against is long: it helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia and dementia, helps in maintaining the health of lactating mothers, maintaining digestion, helps in anti-depression, helps to maintain bone health and immunity as well as in reducing insomnia.
Here is a link to an article that I found interesting, on the presence of arsenic in brown rice, and how rinsing and cooking in a lot of water, like pasta, can reduce the arsenic content.
Fighting Cancer: Brown rice helps in the fight against cancer, with its powerful antioxidants and the high fibre content, and is said to be effective in the prevention of colon cancer, breast cancer and leukaemia.
Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants which can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. The lycopene in tomatoes is thought to be effective in lowering the incidence of Prostate cancer, while the beta carotene is believed to protect against Prostate cancer in younger men. Diets rich in tomatoes may give a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. The potassium in tomatoes is believed to help in controlling blood pressure. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health and the high fibre can be helpful in controlling blood sugar. One cup of cherry tomatoes contains about 2 gms of fibre.
For a delicious and refreshing summer lunch, try out this Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus and do let me know how you liked it.