I first heard of what Blanca Isabel long-grain purple rice is all about while visiting with south Louisiana rice producer Fred Zaunbrecher last fall. This variety was developed by LSU AgCenter’s Dr. Milton Rush in 1998, while he was looking for a rice variety with a natural resistance to sheath blight.
While drafting an article about Blanca Isabel for the January issue of Rice Farming (http://www.ricefarming.com/departments/feature/blanca-isabel/), I spoke with the late Dr. Rush’s daughter, Claudia. She and her family operate Rush Rice Products, LLC, in Baton Rouge, La., where they market and sell Blanca Isabel. Go to www.purpleblackrice.com to check it out. Blanca Isabel is touted for its wonderful flavor, beautiful color, high levels of antioxidants and as a good diabetic diet choice because it does not raise the diabetic’s blood sugar levels.
Claudia graciously sent me a bag of Blanca Isabel to sample for myself. Last night, I cooked up a pot and used it in a chicken casserole dish.
You cook it the same way you do regular rice (2 cups water, 1 cup rice, etc.). The water turns a deep purple color, and in about 18 minutes the rice is ready. I have to say it is delicious.
Being from Louisiana, I asked Claudia an obvious question: “Do you find that Blanca Isabel goes over well with LSU fans?” LSU’s colors are purple and gold, and the team mascot is Mike the Tiger.
“Oh, definitely,” she replied. “A lot of people make what they call Tiger Jambalaya. They cook the rice separately, sometimes with a chicken broth, and even though it is milled, it comes out a very deep purple color. Once the rice is cooked, they combine it with all the other jambalaya ingredients so the dish just pops with color.”
Nice idea for all you Tiger tailgaters out there.
Although football season doesn’t crank back up until later in the year, Mardi Gras is just around the corner! This year, Fat Tuesday falls on February 17. But, as everyone knows, the parties start way before that date.
So what does Mardi Gras have to do with Blanca Isabel purple rice? Well, the official colors of Mardi Gras are PURPLE, gold and green. My suggestion is to get out your cookware, put on your thinking caps and come up with some great recipes featuring Blanca Isabel purple rice to serve at your Mardi Gras parties. Not only is it tasty and healthy, but Blanca Isabel will certainly spark some lively conversation among your guests as they enjoy eating it.
Blanca Isabel: Laissez les bons temps rouler!* Translation: Let the good times roll!