This vegan rice salad is adapted from delicious Italian "insalata di riso" and it's the perfect summer dish, easy to prepare in advance, and bring with you for a picnic outdoors or on the beach. This Italian rice salad is a fulfilling meal that is nutritious, light, crunchy, colorful, and refreshing. To make it extra healthy and fulfilling the recipe uses brown rice, colorful vegetables, and delicious smoked tofu.
Italian Rice Salad [Vegan]
For the Italian Rice Salad:
- 2 cups whole grain rice
- 1/2 cup chickpea
- 3 ounce smoked tofu
- 1 medium zucchini
- 8 leaves lettuce
- 5 tablespoon black olives
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 1 yellow pepper
- 2 carrots
- 2 1/2 tablespoons capers
- salt & pepper
For the Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional) (10 grams)
- parsley (optional)
- In a large pot with lightly salted boiling water, 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. Slice the zucchini into thick slices, season them with salt and a tiny bit of olive oil, 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 tbsp 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 stirring occasionally to help the rice cool down faster.
- On a non-stick pan warm up 1 tbsp of olive oil, then add drained chickpeas and the tofu chopped into small dice. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for two to three minutes. You can add some dried Italian herbs if you have them at hand. Set aside and let cool down.
- 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 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp 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.
- 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 tbsp or two of olive oil and lemon juice.
- Finally, let rest 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.