A rice salad filled with bright and nutty flavors, black-eyed peas, crispy collard greens, and tossed with soumbala vinaigrette is the perfect mix of Africa and Southern soul.
Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with 18 other Black culinary creators. This year, we are honoring 19 Black American cookbook authors by recreating their recipes, amplifying their work, and sharing our connections to Freedom Day. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US was announced in 1865. Share these recipes with your family and help us continue the legacy of celebrating progress. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2022 on Instagram. This collaboration is brought to you by Eat the Culture. Full Juneteenth Cookout 2022 Participant List below.
Deciding what author and cookbook I wanted to highlight for this collaboration was truly a difficult choice. Bryant Terry’s Black Food was released earlier this year, Jubilee by Toni Tipton Martin is one of my favorites and Enda Lewis’s cookbooks are iconic. However, when I started thinking of my culinary journey and how I’ve been researching my ancestral history I knew Michale Twitty and his book “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South” is what I wanted to highlight. More of a history book with recipes tucked throughout, The Cooking Gene articulates the storied history of Black food—American food—filled with joy and also tinged with pain. Twitty writes about this duality beautifully and challenges us not to look away from the past, but to have conversations about change, equity, healing, joy, and taking pride in our food lineages. I had the honor to write an essay about Michael Twitty for Simply Recipes which you can check out here.
What Is African Soul Rice Salad?
This rice salad is a reimagining of Mr. Twitty’s African Soul Fried Rice which is one of the recipes in The Cooking Gene. Mr. Twitty uses ingredients more traditional or indigenous to West and Central Africa. I also wanted to make this “cookout-ready and thought, “rice is a grain. There are grain salads. Why not make a rice salad with a soulful twist?” I think you’ll really like this salad so here’s what you’ll need:
- Long grain rice- I chose to use basmati rice for this recipe but you can use any long grain rice
- Scallions, cut thin on the diagonal (trimmed; use white and all green parts)
- Red, green, and yellow bell peppers-
- Black-eyed peas
- Collard greens
- Roasted Peanut Oil
- Soumbala vinaigrette: We’ll get into what soumbala is below
What Is Soumbala?
One of the reasons I wanted to try an adaptation of this dish is that it introduced me to a new ingredient, soumbala. I’ve recently been digging more into my ancestry and getting more interested in my ancestral ways of cooking and the ingredients that were used. Soumbala is a spice derived from ground locust beans and is widely used in West African cooking. It can also be referred to as Netetou, Ogiri, Iru, or Dawadawa. With a pungent, almost smoky flavor, soumbala has just the right amount of umami. You can find soumbala at African markets or you can also order it on Amazon. If you still have trouble finding soumbala you can substitute Maggi, soy sauce, or even fish sauce.
How to Make the Perfect Rice for Rice Salad?
I’ll go ahead and say it. Everyone needs to know how to make a perfect pot of rice. Whether you make it on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, or in the microwave; whether you use the 2:1 or knuckle method for measuring water, good rice is a MUST.
Having rice that is separated and tender—not clumpy, mushy, or sticky—is important to make this rice salad great. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Rinse the rice several times, until the water runs clear, then soak the rice in cold water for at least 20-30 minutes. This helps to remove a lot of the starch.
- Add some oil to a wide-bottomed then add your rice and stir. You want to make sure each grain of rice is coated in oil before adding the water. This will help keep each grain of rice separate, instead of clumping together—which you may want for another dish but not for this rice salad.
- Bring water to a boil then turn down the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. After 8-10 minutes remove from heat and let the rice sit for 2-3 minutes covered. Once it’s set for a few minutes spread on a sheet pan or cookie sheet and cool.
What’s the Difference between Peanut Oil & Roasted Peanut Oil?
Peanut oil is available in two forms: plain and roasted. Plain (or cold-pressed) oil is made from raw peanuts and has a very little color, aroma, or flavor. Its neutral taste and high smoke point make it a good choice for frying. It will keep for up to 6 months at room temperature. Roasted peanut oil, on the other hand, is made from roasting peanuts which helps to draw out a rich fragrance and flavor. Roasted peanut oil is very tasty in vinaigrettes like the soumbala vinaigrette for this rice salad rounds out a very unique flavor profile. Of course, if you are allergic to nuts, you can use olive oil or grape seed oil, or whatever oil of your choosing.
More Favorite Side Recipes
If you love this festive rice salad recipe, try one of these simple sides for your next cookout:
Juneteenth Cookout 2022 Participant List
- Purple and White Potato Salad prepared by Big Delicious Life from the book Sweet Potato Soul
- Jam Cake prepared by Britney Breaks Bread from the book Jubilee
- Mini Red Velvet Cake by Chenée Today from the book Life Is What You Bake It
- Soy Lime Beef Stir Fry by Coined Cuisine from the book Cooking Solo
- Pinto Beans with Smoked Neck Bones by Cooks with Soul from the book Bludso’s Bbq Cookbook
- Black Pepper Strawberry Slab Pie by Dash of Jazz from the book Watermelon and Red Birds
- Buffalo Cheezy Sweet Potato Fries by Flights and Foods from the book Unbelievably Vegan
- Grilled Pork Porterhouse Steaks by Food Fidelity from the book Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day
- Barbecue Baked Beans with Red Spice by Geo’s Table from the book Son of a Southern Chef
- Jamaican Beef Patty by Her Mise En Place from the book My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Spicy Vegetable Relish by Kenneth Temple from the book In Bibi’s Kitchen
- Red Velvet Cake with Blackberry Frosting by Lenox Bakery from the book Grandbaby Cakes
- Very Strawberry Shortcake by Meiko And The Dish from the book The New Orleans Cook Book
- Pig-Pickin’ Cake by My Sweet Precision from the book Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking
- Blackberry Peach Crumble Pie by Peaches2Peaches from the book Carla Hall’s Soul Food
- African Soul Rice Salad with Crispy Collards by Savor & Sage from the book The Cooking Gene
- Grape-Tarragon Spritzer by Sense and Edibility from the book Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora
- All-Green Everything Salad w/ Creamy Sage Dressing by That Green Lyfe from the book Vegetable Kingdom
- Rum Rum Punch by This Worthey Life from the book The Red Rooster Cookbook