Salt & Wind Travel

Easy Mediterranean Brown Rice Salad

Meet your new favorite healthy recipe, friends. This brown rice salad recipe is one that checks all the boxes: it’s healthy-ish, whole foods, make ahead, and can be modified for the seasons and a range of diets. In fact, we’re going to go all out and say it’s the best brown rice salad recipe out there. But, wait. That makes it sounds boring and this dish is anything but. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This easy brown rice salad recipe is comforting, satisfying, and super flavorful and it makes for a delicious meal. It works as well as a plant-based lunch (it’s really a complete meal!) as it does a Thanksgiving side dish. I made this recipe as an afterthought when we had a last-minute neighborhood block party and it’s slowly become requested and loved by my friends and family and is pretty much the perfect side dish for a crowd. 

Brown Rice Salad Herbs

Recipe Ingredients

Thanks to the combination of nutty brown rice, roasted nuts, sweet currants, and loads of herbs (which are mandatory in my book) this brown rice salad recipe brings fresh, healthy flavors. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Brown Rice (or a mix of any whole grain like quinoa, farro, etc) 
  • Cucumber
  • Roasted Almonds
  • Roasted Pistachios
  • Plumped Currants
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Fresh herbs (fresh Parsley, fresh Mint, or fresh Dill work great)
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

How To Make This Recipe

This brown rice salad recipe is easy to make and healthy. It’s a cold rice salad dish that we make for a summer picnic, a potluck, and even as a side salad or side dish for Thanksgiving. As is, this recipe is vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian. Here is how to make it:

  1. Make The Vinaigrette: Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and mustard in a jar and shake until combined then add salt and pepper, as desired. 
  2. Soak The Currants: Soak the currants in hot water for at least 5 minutes and then drain before using. 
  3. Mix the Ingredients: Mix thee rice, nuts, and vegetables.
  4. Add The Vinaigrette And Serve: Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat then stir in the herbs just before serving. 
Cucumber being cut on cutting board
Ingredients for Mediterranean salad

Variations On This Brown  Rice Salad Recipe

As is, this is a vegan brown rice salad, however, we add in various fresh veggies and other ingredients depending on the season. In the summer months, we leave out the pomegranate and add in fresh produce like tomato, green onions, avocado, feta cheese, and black olives for a sort of whole grain Greek salad meets Mediterranean brown rice salad. While, in the winter, we sometimes add in roasted butternut squash, red onion, and chickpeas. 

Lemon zest in a dressing jar
Pouring dressing onto a brown rice salad

Tips To Make This Recipe

Use Short Grain Rice

You could use long-grain rice for this recipe but we like the bite and texture of short-grain brown rice better. We prefer to use brown rice for its health benefits but you could use white rice if that’s what you prefer. If rice isn’t your thing, you could use wheat berries or farro instead (though it won’t be gluten free, of course).

Cook The Grains

Often times I make this recipes with leftover cooked rice or any extra rice I have on hand. If you’re making the rice fresh, go ahead and simmer it in a saucepan like normal. But, once they’re tender, spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. You’ll want the brown rice to be room temperature before making the salad or it will wilt the herbs. 

Trim The Seeds Out Of The Cucumber

If you use mini (aka Persian) cucumbers, you can keep the seeds. However, we tend to remove them no matter what. This is not a need to do but it will result in a less watery, more flavorful dish.

Start With Two-Thirds Of The Vinaigrette

We use all of the lemon vinaigrette for this recipe but, just to be sure, start by only adding in about two-thirds of the vinaigrette. You want each ingredient coated in the vinaigrette but there shouldn’t be a pool of the liquid at the bottom of your mixing bowl. Keep in mind that the rice will absorb the vinaigrette as it sits so add a tad more than you think you need. 

Add As Many Herbs As You’d Like

The herbs here are just a suggestion and I alter them depending on what else I’m serving with this brown rice salad recipe. I like the herbs that have more of a leafy texture (cilantro, parsley, dill, chives, mint) over the hearty, more woody herbs (like rosemary, thyme, and oregano). 

Frequently Asked Questions

This brown rice salad recipe can be made up to 2 days ahead. However, we'd suggest you add the herbs and nuts just before serving; otherwise, they'll get soft and wilted.

This recipe will last 3 to 4 days days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. However, it tastes best within the first two days because the nuts and herbs lose their texture and flavor otherwise. 

This healthy salad is the ultimate picnic or potluck dish, as it only improves as it sits and it plays along well (as in pairs well) with other dishes. We do like to throw in the herbs at the last minute so they don't wilt, but after eating bowls and bowls of leftovers, we can attest that it's good even if the herbs are added in advance.

If you add in feta avocado or even kalamata olives, we find this to be a hearty enough dish to work as a vegetarian main. But we often serve it with a healthy protein like Chipotle grilled shrimp, Paprika salmon, grilled chicken breast, seared steak, or even Oregano Roasted Chicken

Wild Rice Salad Recipe

Other Grain Salads To Try

If you love putting whole grains in your salads as much as we do, here are a few more to make:

Okay, that’s it! Go stock up on all your cooking essentials then head into the kitchen, make this, and share it with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!

Stirring salad ingredients
Brown Rice Salad Recipe in a serving dish

Cucumber Herb Brown Rice Salad

Made with crisp cucumbers, fresh herbs, toasted nuts, and a light lemon vinaigrette, this healthy cucumber herb brown rice salad is a must make. It works as well as a complete meal as it does as the perfect side dish to pair grilled salmon, chicken, and heartier meats.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Soaking Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 487 kcal


For The Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pure maple syrup or honey (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard (optional)
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For The Brown Rice Salad:

  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 5 cups short grain brown rice cooked
  • 3/4 cup roasted salted almonds roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted shelled pistachios roughly chopped
  • 4 unpeeled Persian cucumbers trimmed and small dice
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (from one large pomegranate)
  • 1/2 cup Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves or dill (or both), roughly chopped
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


For The Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and mustard, if desired, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, close the jar, and shake until well combined. Taste and (Can be made up to 4 days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and shake before using.)

For The Brown Rice Salad:

  • Place currants in a small heatproof bowl and just add enough hot water to cover. Let sit aside for 5 to 10 minutes, then drain. Set aside until ready to use. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead of time.)
  • Combine the short grain brown rice, almonds, pistachios, cucumbers, and pomegranate arils in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  • Pour about 2/3 of the dressing over the rice salad and stir to combine. Continue to add dressing as desired. We use all the dressing as it will coat all the ingredients without having any excess dressing pooling up. However, add as much or as little as you'd like. Add the herbs and stir in just before serving.



Serving: 1servingCalories: 487kcalCarbohydrates: 88gProtein: 10gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 22mgPotassium: 488mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 346IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 3mg
Keyword california salad, Easy salad, healthy grain salad
Tried this recipe?Mention @saltandwind or tag #swsociety!

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