In a covered saucepan, place the water and spices. Heat to boiling and add the rice. Cover and reduce heat to very low. Simmer until just tender, about 15-20 minutes. Immediately turn rice out into large mixing bowl or sheet pan and toss with a mixing spoon to fluff. While rice is cooling, toss frequently to keep clumps from forming.
After about 10 minutes add the rice vinegar and toss again. Let cool completely.
Drain and rinse the black beans. Prepare the peppers and celery.
When the rice is cool, add all the chopped vegetables, the drained black beans and oil. Toss gently until thoroughly mixed. Toss in the cilantro. Taste and adjust for salt.
Let the salad sit for about 20 minutes and taste again. You may want to add a little more rice vinegar or oil, depending on how much was absorbed by the rice and your own personal taste. Remember that when the salad is cold it will need more sharpness from the vinegar.
The salad tastes best when served at room temperature. If you are not going to eat it right away, refrigerate. Bring the salad out about 30 minutes before serving and toss to mix in the dressing that has fallen to the bottom of the bowl.
Other options for vegetables:
Blanched corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, pinto beans instead of black beans.
Recipe by Jane O'Riordan
Terre Rouge and Easton Wines