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Rice Salad

This is a great recipe to use up leftover meats and veg – such as peppers, onions, sweetcorn etc. Have fun and experiment with it. It is also perfect to take to work for lunch or add a leafy green salad and a crusty roll for a light dinner.

You can use whichever type of rice you like, however, I find that basmati rice lends itself to a much lighter and fluffier texture. If you do select basmati rice, I have found that if you soak the rice in cold water for around 30 minutes before use, and rinse out until the water is relatively clear, the rice comes out perfectly.

The critical thing about rice is to make sure that you cool it PROPERLY. Because of the starch, rice is a haven for bacteria to grow and can lead to a very nasty stomach upset – or worse. So, when doing this recipe or whenever you have any leftover rice, make sure that you cool it quickly and properly – never put it into the fridge when it is still warm. When cooled consume within one day and if you want to warm rice up, do it quickly in a pan, preferably with a bit of hot oil.

For this recipe, strain the cooked rice and run it under cold water to ensure that the rice is cold before making the salad and storing it. Use kitchen towel to absorb any excess moisture, and if you are planning on eating later, store well covered in the fridge promptly.

The amount of ingredients in this recipe is really up to you! Depending on what is in your fridge, your tastes, and your ability at the time of making it in regards to chopping etc. You can substitute any prawns or ham or tuna, or even a tin of chickpeas or kidney beans (make sure you rinse first!).

Here is just a guideline of ingredients:

(Serves 4-6 depending on the amount of ingredients you add!)

1/2lb (225g) basmati rice

Sugar snap peas

Baby sweetcorn

Baby plum tomatoes

Leftover chicken

A few slices of cold ham

1 avocado

2 spring onions

Fresh herbs of your choice (such as parsley or basil or thyme) – or dried is fine

1 garlic clove, crushed

Olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon and zest

Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes in cold water (if using basmati) and strain whilst running under cold water until water is relatively clear.
  1. Add to saucepan and cover with water at least 2 inches above the rice. Bring to a rolling boil and then turn the heat down to low and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. (Don’t walk away and do something else, you don’t want it to go mushy and over-cooked.)
  1. Whilst the rice is cooking, cook the baby sweetcorn and sugar snap peas for just 2-3 minutes in the microwave, then rinse in colander under cold water. Start chopping the tomatoes, chicken, ham, spring onions and avocado.
  1. Strain the cooked rice through a colander, rinse with plenty of cold water, remove excess water with kitchen roll and put the rice in a large bowl and cover loosely with a clean cloth or a sheet of foil. (No need to keep it in the fridge if you’re planning to eat straight away; rice salad is one of those things that tastes better at room temperature than it does chilled.)
  1. To the bowl of rice add all the chopped ingredients and cooked ingredients. Add your garlic clove, and fresh or dried herbs.
  1. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. (Or alternatively, use store-bought dressing such as French dressing.)

Additions:

I like to use the rice base with tomatoes, red and green peppers, olives and feta cheese, with dried oregano, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice for the dressing. A kind of Greek rice salad! Yum!

By Alyssa Savage

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