Yotam Ottolenghi does some magical things with food. He celebrates herbs, spices, vegetables, grains and has a way with making dishes almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. That is because after once bite, you are hooked and going in for another spoonful, forkful, what have you. When we were in London a few summers ago, I made it a mission to visit his eponymous cafe and was blown away with everything that I tasted. It exceeded expectations, and I told my boyfriend that it would be okay if he traveled to Paris, Antwerp, and Amsterdam alone while I parked myself at Ottolenghi for the rest of the vacation. We also got a chance to try Nopi, another one of his resturants that we just so happened to stumble upon during one of wanderings, and only had the most complex Shakshuka I had ever tasted. I dream about living steps away from his cafe.
Until then, cooking from his cookbooks will just have to do. I have more recipes in Plenty marked to try at some point than unmarked. And my sister "borrowed" my Plenty More several months ago. She keeps raving about all of the recipes she has made from it, forgetting that one day, she will have to give it back, or just hoping that I will forget that it was mine to begin with. The recipes in Plenty are heavy with vegetables and herbs. He has recipes for all seasons.
Since we have loads of mangoes to eat, I decided to try out Ottolenghi's Mango and Coconut Rice Salad, or at least a close approximation of it. You can find the original recipe in Plenty or here. I made several modifications, but the essence is the same. Two types of rice for texture and flavor, herbs, mango, citrus, coconut, and peanuts. I made the changes based on what I had on hand and my preferences, and we could not be happier with the results. I used brown basmati rice and Lundberg's Black Japonica Rice for its nutty flavor, but if you substitute other rice or grain types, I would be sure to use about 5 cups cooked rice or 5 cups cooked grain in total. This would make a fabulous salad for a make-ahead lunch or an outdoor gathering. It is a real stunner.
Mango and Coconut Rice Salad
2/3 cup brown basmati rice
scant 1 1/3 cup water
pinch of salt
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, divided
1 cup Black Japonica rice
scant 2 cups water
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
2/3 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 fresh serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
grated zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 large mango, cut into 1-2 cm dice
Cook the two types of rice. In a small saucepan, combine the brown basmati rice, scant 1 1/3 cup water, and 1/2 cup a basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt, bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and allow to cook for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove basil leaves and discard.
For the black rice, combine the black rice, the scant 2 cups of water, and sprinkle of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and allow to cook for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Allow both rice types to cool at least to room temperature before proceeding so as not to wilt the herbs.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Add the pepper, herbs, scallions, chile, lime zest and juice to a bowl. Add the cooled rice, the peanuts, and olive oil. Stir to combine and adjust salt to taste. Sprinkle in the toasted coconut, and carefully add in the mango and toss gently so as not to mush the pieces of mango. Enjoy! Serves 4.