This rice salad is adapted from delicious Italian "insalata di riso" and it's the perfect summer dish. Meal-prep-friendly and easy to bring with you for lunch, and a picnic outdoors. Our rice salad is a fulfilling meal that is nutritious, light, crunchy, colorful, and refreshing.
In a large pot with lightly salted boilingwater, boil the whole grain rice for as long as described on the package minus 2 minutes. This is important as the rice will keep cooking with its residual heat.
Preheat the oven to 390˚F (200˚C). Slice the zucchini into thick slices, season them with salt and a tiny bit of oliveoil, and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes. At the same time, roast the whole yellow pepper in the oven for about 30 minutes. Then set aside to cool down.
Once the rice is cooked, drain it well, move it to a large oven dish and add 2 tablespoon of lemon juice immediately while mixing it in with a spoon. This will help lower the temperature of the rice and add flavor. Set aside and keep stirringoccasionally to help the rice cool down faster.
STEP 2: LEGUMES
On a non-stick pan warm up 1 tablespoon of oliveoil, then add drained chickpeas and the tofu chopped into small dice. Season with salt and pepper and sautéfortwominutes. You can add some dried Italianherbs if you have them at hand. Set aside and let cool down.
STEP 3: FRESH VEGGIES
Slice the olives into thin slices, cut the cherry tomatoes into 4 pieces each, cut the carrot into small dice, slice the lettuce into small pieces, rinse the capers under tap water. Add all in a large bowl and season with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt. Mix well.
Once the zucchini and yellow pepper are cooked and cooled, peel and remove the seeds from the pepper then slice both pepper and zucchini into small dice of roughly the same size.
STEP 4: BUILD THE RICE SALAD
Build your rice salad following this order: 1) Add the rice to the bowl with the olives, tomatoes, carrot, capers and lettuce. Mix well with a wooden spoon. 2) Add chickpeas and tofu. Mix well with a wooden spoon. 3) Add the roasted zucchini and pepper. Mix gently from bottom to top with a wooden spoon.
Taste and add some more salt if needed. Also, if you wish you can add an extra tablespoon or two of olive oil and lemon juice.
Finally, letrest in the fridge for about one hour to let the flavors come together. Then take out of the fridge and let at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Rice salad should be served cool but NOT cold.
Optional: serve with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley and some toasted pine nuts.
Quickversion: If you don't have time to follow these detailed steps. you can replace the zucchini with half a cucumber, then cut all the ingredients as described above and mix everything at the same time with the cooked rice and season with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The result is still good!Total time is about 45 min as cooking time and prep time are overlapping for at least 15 minutes, for instance, while you bake the zucchini you can boil the rice and cut the other vegetables.