Not only is red rice more visually striking than its white counterpart, it is also more nutritious, thanks to the fact that as with brown rice, the outer layer of bran is left intact during the milling process.
This wholegrain is high in fibre, and low in fat and cholesterol. It has a delicate nutty flavour, slightly chewy texture and holds its shape well when cooked, meaning that it can form the basis of a number of heart-healthy, satisfying meals. Try experimenting with it in salads, use as an alternative to traditional brown or white rice in a pilaf or as a stuffing for a piece of roast meat or fish.
It is worth making a large batch of the salad below. Serve it warm or at room temperature and any leftovers will make a welcome addition to lunch boxes the following day.
Slow roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavour, turning even lacklustre supermarket offerings into something sweet and flavourful. Feel free to make additions or alterations to the recipe: crumbled feta cheese or grilled halloumi would work well instead of the mozzarella and baby spinach could easily be used in place of the rocket.
Red rice with roasted tomatoes and mozzarella
Serves 4 (or 2 with leftovers)
For the roasted tomatoes:
6 medium tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
200g red camargue rice
For the dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
For the salad:
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 ball mozzarella
handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 140¿C/fan 120¿C/ gas 1. Slice the tomatoes in half and arrange on a baking tray, skin side down. Lightly brush each tomato with olive oil and place a slice of garlic on the surface of each one. Season with salt and black pepper and cook for two to two and a half hours until semi-dried. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Wash the rice thoroughly before tipping into a saucepan and covering with twice the volume of water. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and black pepper. Place a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast for one to two minutes, until golden brown. Tear the mozzarella into pieces.
Tip the rice into a large bowl, add the pine nuts, mozzarella and rocket, pour over the dressing and stir really well to combine. Lastly, add the roasted tomatoes (drizzling over any tomato juices) and the basil leaves.