This vegan Italian rice salad is adapted from the Italian “insalata di riso.” The vegan salad recipe is easy to make and delicious! It’s the perfect summer dish!
It’s easy to prepare in advance and bring with you for a picnic outdoors or on the beach. Our rice salad is a fulfilling meal that is nutritious, light, crunchy, colorful, and refreshing. To make it extra healthy and fulfilling we use brown rice, vegetables, and delicious smoked tofu.
Rice salad is a traditional summer dish that is widely popular all around Italy. In the shoe-shaped country, however, chefs make Insalata di Riso with non-vegan ingredients. These include canned tuna fish, eggs, cheese, and even wurst sausage.
For environmental and health reasons, we try to stay away from animal-based ingredients. Did you know that the WHO listed processed wurst sausage as a carcinogen? Tuna fish is also subject to heavy overfishing. So we developed a recipe that is as yummy as the original one but a lot healthier and eco-friendly.
The ingredients list below is just an indication of what you need. With this recipe, you can be completely creative. Just remember to balance colors and textures to get the most delicious and nutritionally balanced meal. As a rule of thumb, try to cover as many colors of the rainbow as possible.
Vegan Italian Rice Salad With Smoked Tofu and Veggies
In a large pot with lightly salted boiling water, boil the whole grain rice for as long as described on the package minus two 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 two 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 one 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 four 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 one tbsp of lemon juice, one 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: Add the rice to the bowl with the olives, tomatoes, carrot, capers and lettuce. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add chickpeas and tofu. Mix well with a wooden spoon. 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.
If you enjoyed my vegan Italian rice salad recipe, try making my simple and satisfying vegan spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. In addition to garlic and olive oil, my recipe features parsley and chili flakes for added flavor.
You can make my meatless spaghetti dish with this classic Italian-style vegan bruschetta with tomatoes and garlic. It features healthy, plant-based ingredients atop a hearty loaf of bread. Eat it as a side or all by itself!
For dessert, whip up my dairy- and egg-free lemon custard tart with seasonal fruit. This indulgent vegan fruit tart recipe features lemon custard and seasonal fruits like strawberries and peaches. You can also customize it with your favorite fruits. It’s sure to cure all your sweet tooth cravings!