Vegan Italian Rice Salad From The Plant-Based School
There’s nothing like a filling, flavorful, summery salad brimming with fresh veggies. This Vegan Italian Rice Salad from The Plant-Based School is packed with protein from the tofu and chickpeas, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and bursting with Mediterranean flavor. It’ll keep you going all day long without weighing you down!
Vegan Italian Rice Salad
For The Italian Rice Salad
- 2 cups (400 G) whole grain rice
- 1/2 cup (100 G) chickpeas
- 3 oz (80 G) smoked tofu
- 1 medium (250 G) zucchini
- 8 leaves (50 G) lettuce
- 5 Tbsp (50 G) black olives
- 8 (170 G) cherry tomatoes
- 1 (200 G) yellow pepper
- 2 medium (100 G) carrots
- 2.5 Tbsp (30 G) capers
- salt & pepper
For The Dressing
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp (10 G) pine nuts, optional
- parsley, optional
Preparing The Vegan Italian Rice Salad Ingredients
- 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 (200˚C). 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 flavour. 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.
Building The Vegan Italian 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 tbsp or two of olive oil and lemon juice.
- Finally, let rest in the fridge for about one hour to let the flavours 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.
Ingredients And Substitutions
Whole grain brown rice: is healthier and more fulfilling than white rice. You can replace it with buckwheat, couscous, barley, or whole grain oats.
Chickpeas: these are added to improve the protein profile of the dish. The methionine in the rice complements the lysine in the chickpeas to give you a full protein profile. You can replace them with lentils, green peas or edamame beans.
Smoked Tofu: is the perfect way to add that smokey flavor and texture to make the dish extra yummy. You can replace it with any vegan sausage.
Zucchini: you can replace it with eggplant (aubergine) or cucumber.
Lettuce: to add crunch and the summery light green color
Black olives: to add umami, can be replaced by green olives.
Cherry tomatoes: to add sweetness, you can replace them with other tomato types or red bell pepper.
Yellow pepper: can be replaced with sweet corn.
Carrots: to add crunch and orange color.
Capers: to add umami, freshness, and saltiness to the dish. You can replace them with pickled vegetables such as cucumbers, small onions, carrots, etc.
Parsley: to add a dash of freshness to the final dish. You can replace it with dill or chives, or use it in combination with them.
Olive oil + lemon juice: a great condiment of choice as it keeps this rice salad healthy and light.
If you don’t have time to follow all the steps and just want to make a quicker salad that is still fresh and delicious just do as follow.
1) Replace the zucchini with half a cucumber, cut all the vegetables and the tofu, as described above, without cooking them.
2) Add all the cut vegetables, tofu and chickpeas to the cooked rice, season with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice, mix well and serve. Parsley and pine nuts on top are optional.
Tags: Plant-Based School, summer salad, Vegan Italian Rice Salad