Spiced carrot and brown rice salad

I’ve been having an enforced rest following some surgery, but today felt like some creative cooking – reading the recipe books and magazines given to me by my very thoughtful colleagues the inspiration. Our oldest is back at home with us for a time and as he is a coeliac, gluten free cooking is required at our place. So this combination of nutty brown rice with warm spices, sharp, fresh coriander and sweet carrots makes an excellent salad that is healthy and filling and delicious for all of us. I’d recommend serving it with some grilled chicken, Greek yoghurt or labne, and a crisp white wine.

 Serves 2- 4

1 bunch Dutch carrots, tops trimmed, and washed (or use 5 – 6 carrots, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise)
finely chopped coriander stalks, from 1 bunch of coriander
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
2 cups water
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup mixed seeds (I buy mixed seeds from the health food store)
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Lemon dressing
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 200C. Place carrots, coriander stalks, olive oil, cumin, smoked paprika, honey, and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric in a bowl, season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and mix well. Spread out in a single layer on a baking tray lined with silicon paper and roast for 25-30 minutes, turning two or three times, until and tender. I wanted to serve the salad in the roasting tray so as not to lose any of the pan juices, so I used a white enamel tray that could go straight to the table. Set aside to cool.

While the carrots are cooking place the rice, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and 2 cups water in a saucepan, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 30 – 40 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Check it now and then to make sure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Leave for 10 minutes with the lid on before uncovering to cool to room temperature. To make the lemon dressing, put all the ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well. When the rice is a t room temperature pour the dressing over and stir through. Add the currants, seeds and fresh coriander and mix well. Push the carrots to one side in the roasting pan, if you are serving from it and add the rice mixture. It will soak up any of the spiced juices in the pan. Alternatively place the carrots on a serving platter and drizzle over the juices, and pile the rice on the side.