I’ll be the first to admit, this set of ingredients (grapes, black beans, avocado, rice, and basil) really stumped me for a while. Black beans and avocado are a natural and traditional combination, so that seemed easy enough. But basil isn’t particularly southwestern. I also thought about making a rice pudding with raisins. But ultimately, I wanted to find a way to combine all the ingredients in one dish. I thought that the grapes would add a nice sweetness next to cool avocado, and the basil would give it a little fresh kick. However, I could not imagine any way in which the texture of black beans would sit well with grapes.
I gave it much thought, and finally, I came up with a pretty little picture in my head of a halved avocado stuffed with a grape and brown rice salad, sitting on a pool of black bean puree. Something was missing though, something that would compliment each flavor individually and tie it all together: I decided that ingredient was mango. Thus, I dressed the rice salad with a mango-basil vinaigrette and added some mango puree underneath the avocado. Finally, some roasted pepitas on top for a little crunch.
For the mango puree: peel and cut up a mango, and process in food processor.
For the black bean puree: In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup black beans, 1 cup water, a dash of ground ginger and cumin, and some grated lime zest. Simmer for about 90 minutes, then puree and strain.
For the rice salad: combine cooled cooked brown rice, halved red grapes, and diced scallions to your liking. For the dressing, I used the juice from half a lime, about a tablespoon of Trader Joe’s mango chili vinegar, a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper, and finely minced basil.
I garnished with some chopped basil and roasted pumpkin seeds.