This delicious and vibrant Mediterranean Rice Salad is so easy to make and the perfect addition to a BBQ or summer dinner party. A chopped salad mixed with rice and a light and fresh dressing. This is a healthy salad, but filling too.
This is one of our favourite ways to use rice as it just has so much flavour. You can either serve this rice salad as a main dish, as it has a little bit of everything, or as a side. It can be prepared in advance and it's the perfect summer dish.
Why you will love it
- Easy - This cold rice salad is so easy to put together. It takes a little bit of time to chop everything up, but that can be done whilst the rice is cooking and then you just mix everything together.
- Adaptable - Feel free to swap out ingredients to suit your own tastes and use up what you have. Any salad vegetables go and we have lots of suggestions below.
- Healthy - Just look at all the colours going on here. This is a vibrant and nutritious rice salad and a great way to get some extra vegetables in your diet.
- Rice - This is the star of the dish. We have used brown rice for some added fiber and we like the nuttiness of it. However, you can use long or short grain rice for this too.
- Salad items - We used bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes and sweetcorn. We also added spinach for a green boost.
- Onion - We used red onion, however you could use shallots which would have sweeter flavour.
- Butter beans - We wanted to add some extra protein to this rice salad, to make it a little more filling. Other beans would work though.
- Olives - An easy way to add some Mediterranean flavour. You can use stuffed olives for extra flavour.
- Cheese - We sprinkled some feta on just before serving.
- Pine nuts - These add a nice crunch, but any nut or seed would work.
- Dill - You can swap this for basil or parsley if you prefer.
- Dressing - Oil; use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Vinegar; we used apple cider for a nice tartness. Honey; for a little sweetness. Garlic and lemon are added too.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Substitutions and variations
- Rice - We have used brown rice for extra fibre and nuttiness, however other rice works well too. We like to use wild rice as it still has that nuttiness and adds some extra colour. You can just use long grain rice though. Remember, use one cup of rice to one and a quarter cups of water. Bring to the boil then reduce to the lowest heat. Cook with a lid on for 10 minutes and then turn heat off and allow to stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. Brown rice will take longer.
- Vegetables - The great thing about this rice salad is that it is so adaptable. Feel free to add you favourite vegetables, or whatever you have that needs using up. Other salad vegetables that go well in this rice salad recipe are courgettes, carrot, radish, beetroot, spring onions, peas, green beans, asparagus, kale or Roasted Broccoli.
- Dressing - We made a simple lemon and honey vinaigrette. However, you can add your favourite salad dressing to this. Personally we wouldn't go for something creamy like ranch, as it will be too overpowering. Try to keep it nice and light.
- Cheese - We love the creamy addition of feta. However, you could leave that out and then grill some halloumi and serve that on top. The added saltiness is delicious.
- Protein - We added some butter beans for protein, but you could use chickpeas or lentils instead. If you wanted to add some meat (not that it is missing it), then chopped cooked bacon, or leftover shredded chicken work well. You could also add tuna or salmon for a fishy addition.
- Toppings - We added some pine nuts for crunch, but you could also add some crushed pecans or walnuts or flaked almonds. Sunflower seeds are a good addition too.
To make this rice salad a little lighter, make cauliflower or broccoli rice and do half and half with the brown rice. This will make it lower in carbs and add an extra vegetable.
How to make Mediterranean Rice Salad - Step by step
One: Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Once cooked put into a large serving dish.
Two: Add the bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, red onion, butter beans, and spinach.
Three: Add the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta, pine nuts and dill.
Four: Finish with the olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Five: Mix well to combine everything.
What to serve with rice salad
This is such a versatile dish, that it goes with almost anything. We would happily eat it as a main meal, but it also makes a delicious side. Here are some of our favourite meals to serve it with:
- Moroccan Chicken Flatbreads
- Air Fryer Steak
- Crispy Chicken Goujons
- Sausages Cooked in the Oven
- Lamb Shish Kebab
Frequently Asked Questions
Store leftover Mediterranean rice salad in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Before serving, add some lemon juice and give it a good mix up. We don't recommend freezing this because there are too many delicate ingredients that just won't defrost very well.
You don't have to, but it does remove some of the starch.
Yes, it can - making it a great recipe for a BBQ. It actually tastes better the next day as it allows all the flavours to come together.
Yes, as long as you make sure there is no cross contamination, then this can be a gluten free salad.
• To make a quicker version of this rice salad, you could make microwave rice and then mix it together with all the salad ingredients.
• For a creamy addition, add some chopped avocado.
• Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil, as it makes up a big part of the dressing and flavour.
• Cook the rice so it is a little al dente. You still want it to have some bite to it.
• Cool the rice straight away, so it doesn't continue cooking and get mushy. Don't rinse it under cold water, as that will lose a lot of flavour. Spread it on a large baking tray to allow it to cool.
More Mediterranean recipes
If you’ve tried this Mediterranean Rice Salad, then let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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Mediterranean Rice Salad
- 200 g brown rice
- 2 bell peppers - diced
- 0.5 cucumber - diced
- 200 g cherry tomatoes - quartered
- 100 g sweetcorn
- 1 red onion - diced
- 235 g butter beans - canned; drained weight
- 50 g spinach - chopped
- 50 g sun-dried tomatoes - drained and chopped
- 100 g mixed olives - chopped
- 40 g feta - crumbled
- 30 g pine nuts
- 6 g fresh dill - finely chopped
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 garlic cloves - crushed
- 2 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- 1 lemon - juice only
- Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.200 g brown rice
- Add the cooked rice to a large serving dish.
- Add the bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, red onion, butter beans, and spinach.2 bell peppers, 0.5 cucumber, 200 g cherry tomatoes, 100 g sweetcorn, 1 red onion, 235 g butter beans, 50 g spinach
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta, pine nuts and dill.50 g sun-dried tomatoes, 100 g mixed olives, 40 g feta, 30 g pine nuts, 6 g fresh dill
- Finish with the olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice.3 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 garlic cloves, 2 pinch sea salt and black pepper, 1 lemon
- Mix well to combine everything.
- To make a quicker version of this rice salad, you could make microwave rice and then mix it together with all the salad ingredients.
- For a creamy addition, add some chopped avocado.
- Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil, as it makes up a big part of the dressing and flavour.
- Cook the rice so it is a little al dente. You still want it to have some bite to it.
- Cool the rice straight away, so it doesn't continue cooking and get mushy. Don't rinse it under cold water, as that will lose a lot of flavour. Spread it on a large baking tray to allow it to cool.