Raisins, dried cranberries, nuts or seeds and a handful of herbs is always nice in this dish and add an element of surprise in every bite.
You can serve it with a spoonful of savoury tomato jam or a hot sauce if you like things spicy.
1 cup brown rice
2 cups cooked black beans or one can organic black beans
5 asparagus stalks
1 small jalapeno, minced
1/3 cup mixed herbs, chopped (flat leaf parsley, cilantro, mint, thyme,oregano)
1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 small onion, halved, then sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
Salt and pepper
Optional: roasted slender carrots
Rinse rice in cold water, then place in a bowl, cover with fresh water and let soak for 30 minutes or longer. You can also soak the rice overnight in the fridge. When ready to proceed drain the rice and place in a pot with 2 cups water and a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. When it boils lower the heat to minimum cover and let cook until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and leave covered to allow the rice to absorb remaining moisture and fluff up. If you don’t have time to soak the rice then rinse it well and proceed with the cooking.
Cut the asparagus into diagonal 1 inch pieces and steam until crisp tender, then cool under cold water to stop the cooking.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the onion. Cook a few minutes until it softens. Add the sugar and stir over medium heat until the onion is golden and crisp in places.
Place the cooked rice in a large bowl, add asparagus, beans, jalapeno, herbs, raisins, pumpkin and pistachio seeds and mix to combine
Add warm caramelized onion to the rice and stir to coat all the rice with the oil.
Combine the nuts in a small skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil and toss around until a toasty aroma wafts from the pan and the nuts are slightly golden. Add the nuts to the rice, leaving some to sprinkle on top as a garnish.
Taste for salt and pepper.
To roast the carrots, cut slender colourful carrots in half lengthwise, keeping an inch or so if the stem. Place on a baking sheet, toss with a little olive oil and roast at 400F until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
Lay a few roasted carrots on top of the rice and beans bowl and sprinkle with remaining toasted nuts.
Serve warm but it’s also nice at room temperature.