Riso Gallo may be best known for its risotto rice range, but its products go far beyond risotto!
Riso Gallo Rustico is a range of wholegrain and semi-wholegrain rice, ideal for salad recipes, stuffed vegetables and meal accompaniments.
For this recipe, we’re using Gallo Nero Rustico – a wholegrain rice with an unmistakable natural black colour that releases the characteristic scent of sandalwood and freshly baked bread while cooking. Originating in China, it is also currently cultivated in Italy, in the Po Valley.
Riso Gallo nero rice salad with balsamic glazed apricots, roasted feta and almonds
In Italy, risotto isn’t eaten so much during the summer months, as it’s often considered a wintery dish. Instead, we start to see rice and grains eaten in different ways, such as in salad recipes like this.
Danilo Cortellini, head chef at the Italian Embassy in London, has created a modern salad using ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily find together in traditional dishes.
Known as the “forbidden rice of the emperor“, nero rice is said to have been eaten for its nutritional and aphrodisiac properties. It has a high content of minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus and selenium, which are all beneficial to our health.
We love the sharp apricots against the balsamic notesand thought the salty feta cheese, almonds and fragrant nero rice work a treat together – whether it’s for a speedy midweek meal or a dinner party starter.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
250g Riso Gallo nero rice
8 apricots (not too ripe!)
150g feta cheese
60g toasted almonds
1 small bunch of rocket
1 small bunch of thyme
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE PICKLED RED ONION
1 bay leaf
1 red onion
FOR THE BALSAMIC DRESSING
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by preparing the pickled red onion (although we won’t judge if you go for a shop-bought option!).
Bring the water and vinegar to the boil and add the salt, sugar and bay leaf. Slice the onion into thin rings and place in a bowl. Pour over the hot liquid and cover with cling film, letting it cool – the remaining heat will cook the onion. If you are making extra, you can keep the onion in cold liquid, in the fridge, for up to 10 days.
To prepare the dressing, whisk a good pinch of salt and pepper into the balsamic, add the honey and mix. Add the olive oil while whisking until combined. This dressing will naturally separate, so give it a quick whisk again before using.
Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and drizzle with olive oil, mixing well. Using a very hot griddle pan, char the apricots halves on both sides. It should take no longer than a minute or so on each side. It is important that the pan is very hot, the apricots well-oiled and that you do not attempt to turn them too early, or they could stick to the pan.
Boil the nero rice in salted boiling water, following the packet instructions, and leave to cool slightly. In a non-stick pan heat a drizzle of oil and fry the feta on both sides. Add a few aromatic thyme leaves, and cook the cheese for two minutes on each side. Remember to be gentle when turning, as feta is very delicate and crumbly when hot. Don’t panic if it breaks, or doesn’t turn completely golden, the feta works just as well in this salad regardless.
If not pre-roasted, toast the almonds, either on a pan or in the oven until golden. When cold enough to handle, chop into rough segments.
Now it’s time to assemble the salad. Drizzle a little oil on the rice and plate up, ideally in shallow bowls. Add the roasted apricot segments, crumble over the golden feta and top with pickled red onion rings. Drizzle over a spoonful of balsamic dressing and garnish the rice salad with the chopped almonds and fresh rocket salad.
Available in Waitrose, Tesco, EH Booths, Ocado and the Riso Gallo online shop: risogallo.co.uk
Written in collaboration with Riso Gallo as part of a paid partnership.