Spicy Black Rice Salad with Roasted Habanero Pesto Vinaigrette

This is a very unique and satisfying Spicy Black Rice Salad, to say the least.  The habanero in the pesto provide the heat, the black rice gives it a satisfying appeal and the vegetables provide a quality of freshness.  This salad is great either cold or heated up.

Spicy Black Rice Salad

I’m sure the most of you can tell by now that I am absolutely obsessed with pesto.  I love pesto whether it’s a sweet, salty, spicy or herbal.  Growing up, my mom would make large batches of basil walnut pesto using basil that she grew herself.  She still makes it to this day and even freezes some of it so that she can have it year round.  She also makes a mean vegan pesto recipe that I plan to post sometime in the near future.  Back when I had my restaurant, I offered my mom’s basil walnut pesto along with a mini baguette from a great local baker in Hood River.  The customers loved it so much that we would run out of it almost daily.  I often experimented with unique kinds of pesto at my restaurant and I would add the winners to the specials menu board.  One of these winners was the Gorgonzola Cilantro and Toasted Hazelnut Pesto.

Adding different kinds of pesto to salads gives them an extra umphh along with the “I can’t stop eating this” feeling.  I plan to continue experimenting with many more kinds of pesto and will post the successes, so be sure to check back.


You will want a crisp white wine to cut through the pesto.  I have enjoyed this salad with a Verdejo and a Sauvignon Blanc.  It would also work well with a Riesling.


Spicy Black Rice Salad Recipe:

8 to 10 servings

  • 1 Recipe Roasted Habanero Pesto – (recipe below)
  • 1 Recipe Black Rice – (recipe below)
  • 1 Fresh Corn Cob – cut off the cob
  • 1 Head Kale  (about 7 cups) – washed – de-ribbed – thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Radish – thinly sliced
  • 2 Tomatoes (about 2 cups) –  wedged or diced
  • 1/4 Small Red Onion – thinly sliced or minced
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro – roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup Forbidden Black Rice
  • 1 3/4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Garlic Clove (Optional)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Roasted Habanero Pesto Vinaigrette
  • 2 – 3  Fresh Habanero Peppers
  • 1  1/4 Cup Manchego Cheese – shredded – packed
  • 1 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt


Rice & Corn

Measure rice and water and put into a small saucepan preferably with a glass lid.

Add the garlic and salt then cover and bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to simmer in-between medium-low and low for 30 – 40 minute.  Check at 30 minutes, if you still see a bit of liquid cook for 5 – 10 more minutes.  Or until water is gone.  Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 5 more minutes.  Put the cut corn into a large bowl and when the rice has sat for the 5 minutes dump it onto the corn.  This will cook the corn perfectly.


To roast the habanero peppers, turn the oven onto broil and lined them in the center or the baking sheet so they are directly under the broiler.

 Place the baking sheet on top shelf of the oven for about 3 – 4 minutes and flip for about 1 minute checking on them the whole time.  You want them to be a bit burnt but not completely.

Then remove stem and seeds and put everything in a food processor or blender and puree.  Make sure to wear gloves!


Wash the kale and tear off the main rib by holding the end of the stem and sliding off the leaves, dry, then chop into thin strips.  Drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil onto the kale and massage into the kale.

Pick off cilantro leaves and measure.  Add the radish, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion and cilantro.  Mix everything together well.  Add more salt if needed.


Health benefits:

Black rice contains a high amount of anthocyanin like blood oranges.  The research has found that just a spoonful of black rice coating “bran” has more anthocyanin antioxidants than in a spoonful of blueberries, less sugar, more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.  It is valuable for reducing inflammation and for its anti-aging properties. It is also for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and helps protect the nervous system from degeneration.

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