Sometimes the best recipes take a really windy path from inspiration to perfection. and this is one such example.
This salty, crunchy and fruity salad was born of my infatuation with this tomato farro salad which is just to die for — if you tolerate gluten and tomatoes. Turns out, I do not.
I made it in its original form a few summers ago, for a very discerning group of former restaurateurs who agreed it had the texture, freshness and complexity we crave. I made it again at home for my husband and me, subbing black rice the first time, and then later wild rice, in place of the farro. It was missing the toothsome texture of farro but was good nevertheless. But the tomatoes precipitated a migraine, so we parted ways.
This time around (summer ’17) I was intrigued by a recipe for quick-pickled blackberries which seemed totally up my alley but ultimately I wasn’t wowed. I was pretty sure I could skip the pickling step and go right to combining the two components in a salad, and I was right. The blackberries got to retain their texture and shape (which they didn’t do in the pickling liquid) and the (modified) pickling liquid became the base of my dressing.
So, that’s how this beauty came to be. It’s sort of a hybrid of the original tomato salad and the quick-pickled blackberries, and was seriously scrumptious served alongside grilled black cod. It would also be a great accompaniment for any type of grilled meat or hearty white fish such as sea bass.
Do it! You will be a better person for having experienced this salad.
1 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
2 – 6oz packages of blackberries (set 4 berries aside for the dressing)
2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced, preferably with a mandolin
1 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup whole tarragon leaves (stems removed)
flake salt for finishing
1 large garlic clove, finely grated on a microplane
2 tablespoons Red Boat (brand) fish sauce
6 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
Serves 4. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a mason jar (or container of your choosing). Using a muddler, or the tines of a fork, break up the berries as much as possible. Shake vigorously to combine and break down the berries even further. Refrigerate until use.
Cook the wild rice (according to manufacturer’s directions) in a medium pot of boiling well-salted water until tender, about 50 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, you want the rice to retain its shape and be slightly chewy. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, fluff with a fork, and refrigerate until use.
When ready to serve, add the cucumbers, parsley, and tarragon to the bowl of rice and toss gently to combine. Add the vinaigrette and toss again to coat. Divide between 4 plates, top each salad with blackberries and sprinkle with flake salt.
Lundberg Wild Blend is my favorite wild rice blend, and I have found it in the bulk bin at Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s’ wild rice blend became too fluffy and lost its shape, so I don’t recommend it for this salad
I tried subbing white wine vinegar for the Champagne vinegar, but the vinaigrette lost a little of its brightness.