This is the ultimate rice salad recipe! An incredible blend of Mediterranean flavours that's perfect for your summer BBQ, preparing a packed lunch, or simply craving a light and satisfying dinner.
This vegetarian-friendly dish is not only easy to make but also incredibly versatile, allowing you to customise it to your liking. The star of this recipe is the homemade olive oil, lemon, herb, and garlic dressing that ties all the ingredients together beautifully. This salad is a refreshing, cold dish that's perfect for those hot summer days.
⭐️ Why You'll Love This Easy Rice Salad
- Simplicity: With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a vibrant and flavourful rice salad that is light and fresh.
- Versatility: You can easily swap out ingredients based on your preferences or dietary needs. Add more vegetables, include some protein, or change up the dressing.
- Perfect for BBQs: This salad makes a fantastic side dish for BBQs. It pairs well with a variety of grilled foods and adds a refreshing element to your meal.
- Make-Ahead Meal: Easy rice salads can be prepared in advance, allowing you to save time on busy days and ensuring you have a healthy meal ready to go.
- Homemade Dressing: Easy to make and full of flavour this dressing will become a new favourite for most of your salads. The combination of olive oil, lemon, herbs, and garlic adds a tangy and savoury element to the salad that you'll love.
🧾 Main ingredients for rice salad
- Long grain rice- *you can use basmati, brown or white rice. They all work really well and just depend on your preference.
- Sun-dried tomatoes- *be sure to drain them of oil before adding them to the salad.
- Mediterranean vegetables for rice salad
- Orange pepper- *any bell pepper will work, but orange adds a lovely colour and sweetness.
- Red onion
- Cherry or plum tomatoes
- Green and/or black olives
- Pine nuts- *chopped almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds work well too.
- Fresh basil and parsley
- For the dressing
- Olive oil- extra virgin preferrably
- Herbs (Italian seasoning/dried herbs)
- Garlic (puree or minced cloves)
- Optional extras
- feta or goat cheese
See recipe card for quantities.
👩🏻🍳 Make rice salad in 3 simple steps
Cook the Rice: The first step in making this salad is cooking the rice. It will need time to cool before assembling the salad.
- Rinse the rice to remove excess starch, then boil it with the specified amount of water. After boiling, cover the pan and let it sit for 8-10 minutes without lifting the lid.
- Fluff up the rice with a fork and cool it in the fridge. This process ensures that the rice is perfectly cooked and doesn't stick together in the salad.
Prepare the Dressing: While the rice is cooling, you can prepare the dressing.
- Mix olive oil, lemon juice, Italian seasoning/dried herbs, and garlic puree or minced cloves in a jar.
- Seal the lid and shake well to combine the ingredients. This homemade dressing is simple to make and adds a burst of flavour to the salad. *It will keep well in the fridge for a few weeks.
Assemble the Salad: Assemble the salad once the rice is cooled and the dressing is prepared.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, chopped Italian salad ingredients, and the prepared dressing. Mix everything together until well combined. This ensures that every bite of the salad is packed with flavour.
- Serve: Serve the salad in a large bowl or plate, garnished with fresh herbs. This salad is best served cold, making it a perfect option for a hot summer day.
Cooling the Rice: Allow the cooked rice to cool completely before adding the other ingredients. This will prevent the vegetables from wilting and the dressing from separating, ensuring that your salad stays fresh and crisp.
- Vegetable Swaps: Feel free to substitute any of the vegetables with what you have on hand. For instance, bell peppers can be used in place of cucumbers for a crunchier texture, or you can add in some spinach or arugula for a leafy element.
- Rice Alternatives: You can also try different types of rice like brown or wild rice. These can add a nuttier flavour and are packed with more nutrients compared to white rice.
- Dressing Variations: If you're not a fan of olive oil and lemon dressing, you can try other dressings like a simple vinaigrette, a creamy yoghurt dressing, or even a tangy soy sauce-based dressing for an Asian twist.
- Protein-Packed: You can add additional ingredients like pancetta, tuna, or mozzarella if you're not strictly vegetarian or vegan. These additions can add a new flavour dimension and extra protein to the salad.
- Fruitful Twist: For a sweet and tangy twist, consider adding diced fruits like apples, grapes, or even pineapple. These can add a refreshing burst of sweetness that pairs well with the savoury elements of the salad.
- Grain Variety: If you're looking to experiment with different textures and flavours, consider using a different type of grain. Quinoa, bulgur, or couscous can be great alternatives to rice.
- Fridge: Store the rice salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. This allows you to make the salad in advance and enjoy it over a few days.
- Freezer: This salad should not be frozen because the texture of the vegetables may change upon thawing Enjoy this salad fresh or stored in the fridge.
- Reheat: This salad is best served cold. If you've added any meat products, ensure they are reheated to a safe temperature before consuming.
💡 Tips for perfecting your rice salad
Rinsing the Rice: Make sure to rinse the rice thoroughly to remove excess starch. This will prevent the rice from becoming sticky, ensuring that each grain is separate in your salad.
Absolutely! This salad is great for making in advance. Just hold off on adding the dressing until you're ready to serve. This ensures that the salad stays fresh and the ingredients don't become soggy.
Yes, you can use any type of rice you prefer. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Different types of rice can add a new texture and flavour to the salad.
Absolutely! Grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu are great protein choices. This can make the salad more filling and add a new flavour dimension.
More incredible BBQ sides
BBQ recipes to serve with this rice salad
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Ultimate Mediterranean Rice Salad- Easy Recipe
- 200 g 1 cup long-grain rice
For the dressing
- 60 ml ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning/dried herbs
- 2 cloves of garlic, purée or minced
- 50 g ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 orange pepper
- 1 cucumber
- 1 red onion
- 150 g 1 cup cherry or plum tomatoes
- 150 g 1 cup sweetcorn
- 50 g ⅓ cup green and black olives
- 30 g ¼ cup pine nuts
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook the Rice:
- Rinse 200g (1 cup) of long grain rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and prevents the rice from sticking together. Add the rinsed rice to a pot with 250ml (1 cup) of water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for 8 minutes without lifting the lid. After 8 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, still covered, for another 10 minutes. Finally, fluff up the rice with a fork and let it cool in the fridge.
Prepare the Dressing:
- In a jar, combine 60ml (¼ cup) of olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning/dried herbs, and 2 cloves of garlic (puree or minced). Seal the lid and shake well to combine the ingredients.
Assemble the Salad:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled rice, 50g (½ cup) of sun-dried tomatoes, 1 diced orange pepper, 1 diced cucumber, 1 diced red onion, 150g (1 cup) of cherry or plum tomatoes, 150g (1 cup) of sweetcorn, 50g (⅓ cup) of green and black olives, and 30g (¼ cup) of pine nuts. Pour the prepared dressing over the salad and mix everything together until well combined.
- Serve the salad in a large bowl or plate, garnished with fresh basil and parsley. This salad is best served cold or room temperature.
- Make sure to rinse the rice thoroughly to remove excess starch. This will prevent the rice from becoming sticky, ensuring that each grain is separate in your salad.
- Allow the cooked rice to cool completely before adding the other ingredients. This will prevent the vegetables from wilting and the dressing from separating, ensuring that your salad stays fresh and crisp.
- This salad is best served fresh but can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you've added any meat products, ensure they are reheated to a safe temperature before consuming.
- Feel free to customize this recipe based on your preferences. You can add more vegetables, include some protein, or change up the dressing. Enjoy!