For a showstopping side this jewelled rice salad hits all the satisfying flavour notes - sweet, zesty, herby and tangy with an earthy nuttiness from the wholegrain rice. It makes a great accompaniment to roast chicken, grilled meats or Kabobs (Persian kebabs).
Ingredients (3-4 as a side dish):
- 1 Nice Rice Wholegrain Basmati pouch
- ½ bunch spring onions, finely chopped
- Small handful toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
- Small handful pomegranate seeds
- 1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Small handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Small handful fresh mint leaves, tips reserved and the rest chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A good glug of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- Finely grated zest and juice of half an orange
- Juice of half an unwaxed lemon
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin + 1 tsp for the chickpeas
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander + 1 tsp for the chickpeas
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon + ½ tsp for the chickpeas
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6. Drain the can of chickpeas and rinse well. Pat dry with some kitchen paper and spread out onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle over the spices and a pinch of flaked sea salt, then toss to coat well. Roast in the oven for around 10-12 minutes, until the chickpeas are crispy but not burnt, so keep an eye on them.
- Meanwhile, make the zesty dressing. In a small jar with a tight lid (or a small bowl) mix together the crushed garlic, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, orange juice and zest, lemon juice, maple syrup, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
- Squeeze the Wholegrain Basmati rice pouch well to separate the grains, then tip into a large bowl.
- Add the chopped spring onions and most of the pistachios and pomegranate seeds (reserving a few to decorate the top). Once the chickpeas are ready and slightly cooled, tip most of these into the bowl, too (again, saving a few to decorate the top).
- Pick the small leaves from the tops from the mint sprigs to decorate the top of the salad, then finely chop the fresh herbs.
- Toss the dressing through the rice, followed by the fresh herbs. Tip into a serving dish and top with the small mint leaves and the remaining roasted chickpeas, chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds.
Now it's time to tuck in to some changemaking grains - enjoy!