Riso Venere

Riso Venere

Riso Venere, or black rice, has been around in China since ancient times. It was a rice meant for emperors and princes because of its rarity. Because it was so difficult to cultivate, it was appreciated and eaten only by the elite in China.  In 1997, thanks to the research and development provided by the Centro Ricerche di SA.Pi.Se in Italy, a similar variety was developed for commercial use. Today it is grown primarily in and around Vercelli and Novara,  great rice growing areas of Piemonte.

Rice fields between Novara and Vercelli
Rice fields between Novara and Vercelli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I found a California brand Hinode carries it as well and so I tried it to see how it held up. It did well….When cooked, the color is more purple than the deep black of the Italian version. Still, good to know I can find it at my local supermarket instead of going to a specialty shop.

Treat it as you would regular rice. Here I made a rice salad (insalata di riso) doing the following:

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Add salt and then pour 2 cups black rice into the water, stir and let cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool. Add a bit of olive oil just so the rice kernels won’t stick.

Then add whatever ingredients you like best. I added half a red pepper, half a cup of chopped red onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a cup or so  of cooked corn, a cup of cooked green peas.  In other words, what I had handy! But you could add chopped green scallions, chopped hardboiled eggs, a can of drained tuna, peperoncini.  Think color….against the dark rice, the colors just pop! The dressing should be simple: enough olive oil (start with 1/4 cup)l to moisten the rice and the juice of one lemon, sale (salt) and pepe (pepper) to taste. High in protein and fiber, low in fat, you would never guess this is absolutely the healthiest, guilt-free eating possible! Serve as a summer salad for lunch or as a dramatic side dish for a BBQ.

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