This Brown Rice Salad looks way too healthy to taste as good as it does! The fresh dill and coriander/cilantro with the bright lemon dressing totally makes it. The perfectly cooked, nutty brown rice helps. Everything else is customisable.
You didn’t really think I’d share a rather dull (but life essential) post for how to cook brown rice without following it up with an extremely delicious way to use it, did you??
Brown Rice Salad
This is a Brown Rice Salad that aspires to be everything you expect a rice salad to be (healthy, filling, fresh) and everything you don’t expect it to be (can’t-stop-eating-it-good).
It’s also a rice salad that will surprise those of you who grew up not realising such a thing existed. (Pretty sure that would be anyone with Asian parents ).
It is very, very good. It’s fresh, juicy, bright, and really makes the most of the addictive nutty, slightly chewy texture of brown rice though it can be made with any type of cooked rice, or other grains for that matter (farro, pearl barley, tiny or giant couscous).
Ingredients in Brown Rice Salad
Here’s what I put into this brown rice salad – though you’ll see an extensive list of customisation suggestions below!
- Brown rice – only perfectly cooked brown rice allowed in these parts! No mushiness permitted . Alternatives: any rice – normal or fancy (white, jasmine, basmati, wild etc), quinoa, and anything rice-like shaped such as farro, pearl barley, couscous;
- Cucumber & tomato – the freshness and juiciness;
- Red onion – welcome sharp bite. Alternatives: green onion, Eschallots/French shallots;
- Dill and coriander – one of the best fresh herb combinations for salads, in my humble opinion. I use it regularly – such as in this Israeli Couscous Salad, JP’s Iceberg Lettuce Salad and this Ottolenghi Chickpea Salad; and
- Rocket / Arugula – I really like adding a bit of green fluffage into any starch based salad. For interest, extra freshness and to add a different textural element. Alternatives: any sliceable leafy greens – baby or normal spinach, kale (marinate it to make it softer), cabbage).
Customise the vegetables with any raw or cooked vegetables you want (diced and sautéed in a little oil perhaps with some garlic, or roasted – try Roasted Eggplant. It’s amazing!).
You’ll see in the video and photos that I’ve also included black olives which I consider an optional extra for this Mediterranean themed version of this rice salad. I don’t always include it – the above ingredients are my base version.
It’s also shown topped with crispy golden slices of halloumi which is a seriously delicious and on theme way to elevate this to show-off status (or, you know, just a really good meal for yourself).
Lemon Dressing Ingredients
And here’s what goes into the lemon dressing: lemon juice, garlic, mustard (for thickening), extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
How to make this Brown Rice Salad
I always feel like I’m teaching you how to suck eggs when I show the process photos for a salad! But I do think it’s a useful one-pager to show how this comes together. For all those times you don’t have 90 seconds to watch the recipe video!
Elevate it to meal status
I know I said the crispy golden halloumi is optional, but everytime I see a photo of it, I want to take it back and make it part of the base recipe!
The only reason why I won’t is because I like that this salad is interesting and fresh enough to be a side salad OR a meal.
Also, even if you don’t happen to have a block of halloumi in your fridge waiting to pan fry to golden perfection, there’s plenty of other ways to elevate it to meal status:
- Crumble of feta
- Sprinkle of parmesan
- Dollop of yogurt
- Nuts – try flaked almonds (toasted), or walnuts, pepitas, sunflowers, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts
- Can of tuna, salmon or other fish
- Sliced poached chicken (super juicy even fridge cold if you use this method)
- Any other cooked protein that takes your fancy
What to serve with this Brown Rice Salad
This is a wonderful two-in-one side salad for meals (ie starch + veg in one dish) but interesting and colourful enough to stand on its own as a light meal or as part of a lunch spread. Here are a few suggestions:
Mains for warm summer nights
Salads for sharing – lunch with friends
Enjoy! – Nagi x
PS Ah, I just remembered! A few years ago, I also shared a Cowboy Rice Salad. Fun name. Delicious to eat!
Watch how to make it
Mediterranean Brown Rice Salad
Serves 6 to 8 as a side, 4 as a meal. Keeps for 3 days. Exellent work lunch option, and serving for lunch with friends.
Salad (Note 1):
- 3 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 tomatoes , diced
- 2 cucumbers , diced (or 1 long English/continental cucumber)
- 1/2 red onion , chopped (sub 2 stems green onion)
- 40g/ 4 cups tightly packed baby rocket/arugula , roughly chopped (or baby spinach)
- 1/3 cup coriander/cilantro leaves , roughly chopped (Note 2)
- 1/3 cup fresh dill leaves , roughly chopped (Note 2)
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic cloves , minced using garlic press
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (Note 3)
- 3/4 tsp salt , kosher/cooking salt (1/2 tsp table salt)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Optional extras (pictured):
- 1/2 cup black olive slices
- 200g/7oz halloumi , sliced then pan fried in a little olive oil until golden and crispy
- Other topping options: feta, parmesan, nuts (Note 4)
Place Dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.
Place Salad ingredients in a big bowl. Drizzle over Dressing, toss well.
Transfer to serving bowl. If using Halloumi, pile on top.
2. Fresh herbs – this is one of my favourite fresh herb combinations for salads, they go together brilliantly and it really makes this salad something special. But if you don’t have them / have an aversion to coriander/cilantro, try one of these:
- parsley or chives and dill
- chives and parsley
- just coriander/cilantro or dill (double up)
- 2 1/2 tsp oregano (add to dressing – will taste like a Greek Salad!)
- 2 tsp dried mixed herbs, or other dried herbs of choice
3. Dijon mustard – sub yellow mustard, or omit. Makes the dressing a wee bit thicker which is great for fine-grain type salads because it helps coat better.
4. Nut option suggestions – flaked almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas. I feel like peanuts would be odd, but someone may prove me wrong.
5. Storage – keeps for 3 days, though the tomato does looks perky juiciness the next day. I also like to either hold back some dressing to give it a fresh drizzle just before serving, or even a squeeze of fresh lemon and drizzle of olive oil will do the trick.
Most importantly though, SERVE AT ROOM TEMP. Cold rice is hard and not pleasant. If need be, give it 3 x 10 second zaps in the microwave to take the chill out of it.
LEFTOVER HALOUMI- pro tip: refrigerate cooked halloumi, then chop it into small batons and reheat in microwave. Toss through salad. So good!
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings. Excellent veg+starch side dish for meals.
Life of Dozer
This guy really, REALLY doesn’t like cucumber…..