Simple Summer Rice Salad With Moroccan Flavors

moroccan rice salad featured

Oh, rice. You have me so confused. For eons we’ve been told to eat brown rice because it’s better for you. It contains more fiber and nutrients because the grain is kept intact. But lately there have been warnings to watch your intake of brown rice because of its arsenic levels. A recent report by Consumer Reports revealed that brown rice has 80 percent more inorganic arsenic than white rice. Inorganic arsenic leaches into food through fertilizer and pesticide.

So I’ve been switching up my family’s rice intake, using more white jasmine and basmati. White basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan, and sushi rice from the United States averages around half of the inorganic arsenic found in most other rice varieties.

Here’s a nice way to use rice in an easy summer salad, created for Amira Nature Foods by British food writer and author, Genevieve Taylor. Amira’s basmati has extra long grains, which stand up nicely to a salad packed with ingredients.

Moroccan Rice Salad With Harissa Chicken, Apricots and Chickpeas

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients
  • For the Harissa chicken:
  • 1 heaping teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small red bell pepper, roasted and chopped (you can use the equivalent in jarred roasted peppers)
  • 3.5 ounces long red chili peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the salad:
  • 1 ¼ cups Amira Basmati Rice
  • 1 teaspoon sunflower oil
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 5 ounces dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Make the harissa paste: Dry fry the caraway and cumin seeds in a small pan for a couple of minutes. As soon as you smell their aroma wafting up from the pan, transfer into a mortar and pestle and roughly grind.
  2. Add harissa paste to a food processor along with the peppers, chilies, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and tomato paste. Process until smooth and season to taste with salt, pepper and a splash more vinegar if necessary.
  3. Use half this paste to spread over the chicken and set them aside in the fridge to marinate for an hour or more --- overnight would be fine if you have the time.
  4. Make the salad: Rinse the rice under cold water and add to a bowl. Cover well with cold water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well.
  5. Heat a little oil in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Once it is hot, add the drained rice and stir fry for 30 seconds to coat each grain lightly in oil. Pour in boiling water from the kettle so that it comes just a half inch above the level of the rice. Stir well and bring up to the boil. Cover with the lid and set the timer to boil for just one minute. Turn off the heat and, without removing the lid, reset the timer for 13 minutes. Remove the lid and fork through the rice grains, which will have absorbed all the water and become light and fluffy.
  6. While the rice is cooking, heat a barbecue grill or grill pan until smoking hot and cook the chicken fillets on both sides until done --- about 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness. Remove and chop into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Add the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl and stir through the cooked chicken, chickpeas, scallions, apricots, toasted almonds and parsley. Add extra harissa and salt and pepper to taste. If you feel it is a little dry but has enough of a spice kick, simply add a little more olive oil.
  8. Serve this salad freshly made while still warm, or chill and eat within 24 hours of making.

What’s your favorite variety of rice? I’m partial to jasmine — makes the kitchen smell incredible. — Gail

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