Healthy and bold brown rice salad, prepared Italian-style with tuna, artichoke hearts, chopped veggies, and fresh parsley. A simple dressing of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil brings it together!
For best flavor, make it about 30 minutes or so before you serve it and set aside or refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld.
I'll admit the first time I made this rice salad was to use up some leftover lemon rice. I added whatever chopped veggies and fresh herbs I found in the back of the fridge and tossed it all with a little vinaigrette. Viola!
I've been making some version of rice salad since until I arrived at a favorite: Italian-style rice salad recipe.
You'll love the flavor combination in this bright and healthy salad. And because rice salad will hold up well and makes a great side for your next picnic or potluck. Heck, great for lunch the next day!
Brown Rice Salad, Italian-Style
This is my take on Insalata di Riso (Italian rice salad), of which there are plenty of variations that make the perfect hot-weather picnic meal or a simple lunch.
The base of this rice salad recipe is brown rice. I chose brown rice here because I really enjoy the subtle nutty flavor. You can use any rice you like (or you can try cauliflower rice for a low-carb option like I did in this cauliflower salad recipe!)
I noticed that many Italian rice salad recipes often add some sort of protein--boiled eggs, prosciutto, beans, or tuna. In this recipe, I opted for tuna (quality tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil).
For me, the right combination of texture and flavor is what makes the best brown rice salad recipe. That's why I love adding a variety of fresh, crunchy items like red onions, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes along with a couple of briny, marinated items like artichoke hearts and pickles!
Some cooked peas balance out the salty flavors and bring a pop of green.
No fussy dressing needed here. A little red wine vinegar and my favorite extra virgin olive oil with one minced garlic clove.
Tips for how to make rice salad recipe
- Cook the brown rice in advance. You can make the rice ahead the night before and allow it to rest in the fridge. For this recipe, you need 2 cups of cooked rice, you can start with ¾ cup to 1 cup of dry rice. I like to rinse the rice well and soak it in water for 20 to 30 minutes or so to get rid of excess starch. Follow the package instructions for brown rice from there (you can also use another rice option like this rice and vermicelli)
- To make this brown rice salad, combine the cooked rice with the tuna, fresh chopped veggies, marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped pickles, cooked sweet peas, fresh parsley... Pour the dressing (red wine vinegar, olive oil, and garlic). Give it a good toss to combine.
- Allow the salad to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. This allows the rice to absorb the tasty flavors. Just give it a toss to refresh before serving.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Great lunch option!
Can you freeze rice salad?
While you can safely freeze rice for later use (just let your freshly cooked rice come to room temp before freezing it in a container or freezer bag), I don't recommend that you freeze this brown rice salad.
Given the tuna and several other fresh and marinated items in this rice salad, it's not the kind of thing I would freeze.
More Recipes to Try
Italian-Style Rice Salad Recipe
- 2 cups cooked brown or white rice of your choice
- 7 ounces tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed and cooked according to package instructions (or use canned drained peas)
- ½ red onion chopped
- ½ red bell pepper chopped
- 6 oz marinated artichoke hearts halved
- 2 small pickled cucumbers chopped
- Large handful fresh parsley chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 to 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Salt and pepper
- Add the cooked rice, tuna, cherry tomatoes, cooked peas, onions, bell peppers, chopped pickled cucumbers, and a large handful of chopped parsley into a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, kosher salt and black pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- This salad will serve 4 people for lunch or 6 or more as a part of a potluck/picnic.
- For brown rice: cook about ¾ cup of dry brown rice according to the package instructions. I always rinse the rice and and allow it to soak for 20 minutes or so to git rid of extra starch. You can prepare the rice one or two nights ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.
- For best flavor: allow the rice salad to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before serving, this will give the rice time to absorb the tasty flavors!
- Storage: Keep leftovers in a tightly covered container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
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