As we transition from winter to spring, salads return to my table. While the weather is still a little cool, I like to include a cooked component to makes them easier to digest. My transitional season salads tend to include roasted or blanched vegetables and/or cooked grains.
I’ve been making variations on this brown rice and tuna salad since the 1980’s, adding a few extra flourishes over time. It’s particularly handy as the ingredients are flexible, mainly using pantry staples plus some herbs growing in the garden. See the ideas below for variations (including vegan or tuna-free).
Brown rice and tuna salad
2 cups cooked brown rice (long grain is best but any will do)
1 – 1.5 cups crunchy raw vegetables (spring onions, Lebanese cucumber, celery, capsicum, carrot), finely sliced
1 medium sized (185g) can tuna, drained
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved (or a few sundried tomatoes or a handful of capers)
½ cup parsley and/or dill, chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped (optional)
When the rice is cooled (it’s ok to cook the day before and store in the fridge), combine with the vegetables, olives and herbs. Toss through the dressing – your favourite vinaigrette (or the lemony version below). If using eggs, scatter on top and serve.
1 generous tsp Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (more to taste if desired)
1 – 2 cloves garlic, crushed
100 ml olive oil
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Combine the garlic, mustard and lemon juice, then whisk in the olive oil til well combined (alternatively shake them together vigorously in a jar with a well-fitting lid). Add salt and pepper to taste (and more of other ingredients you get a combination that you love best).
Don’t like tuna? Try smoked fish, canned mussels, cooked chicken or vegetarian alternatives.
Vego: substitute tuna for toasted almonds, or fried tofu or tempeh. Mock “fish” is also available from vegan stores, if desired.
Other grains: cooked farro, wild rice, or quinoa works well.
Vegetables: try blanched instead of raw veggies – such as green beans or sugar snap peas. (It’s still good to add some finely sliced spring onions to the final salad for crunch and flavour).
This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan-adapatble. For more inspiration in the kitchen, take a look at the recipe archive.