Brown rice salad with nuts, seeds and tamari dressing

2015-10-29 00.42.03 (683x1024)The recipe for this brown rice salad with Asian flavours was given to me by a friend a few years ago. She described it as being ‘very pretty with its confetti of different coloured vegetables’, and it is. She likes to use a packet of mixed nuts and seeds and suggests toasting them really well to add crunch to the salad. The recipe was originally published in The Canberra Times for Australia Day, 20 January 2010.

This is a terrific salad to take to a barbecue or picnic. If you are serving it at a gathering where there will be small children, I would leave the nuts out altogether. Add a few more herbs and other ingredients instead and it will be just as delicious. This tasty salad has quickly become a favourite with my family.

It is virtually a store cupboard recipe and substantial enough for vegetarians to have as the main dish. You can vary the ingredients as you like and I have included chickpeas, red kidney beans, pressed tofu, fresh pineapple or salad sprouts on occasion.

If you can’t find mixed nuts and seeds when shopping, make up your own mix. I suggest almonds, cashews, pistachios, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. You can use frozen peas and tinned or frozen corn kernels for the salad.

 Photography by Andrew Sikorski.


  • 300g brown rice (1 1/2 cups), rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped or 4-6 spring onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup sultanas, plumped in hot water
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
  • 1 small red pepper (capsicum), diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley and/or coriander
  • 1 cup (125g) mixed seeds and nuts (raw or toasted)


Tamari dressing

  • 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil


  1. I like to cook brown rice by the absorption method for a fluffy result. See the method below, or follow the method given on the brown rice packet.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, combine the ingredients in a jar and shake well.
  3. If using the chopped red onion, rinse in cold water to remove the sharp taste. Soak the sultanas in hot water for ten minutes to make them plump. Toast the raw nuts and seeds in 180C oven for about ten minutes until golden and crunchy. Stir a couple of times during baking. Set aside until serving.
  4. When the rice is cooked but still warm, pour in half the dressing and mix through. Tip into a large container and add the red onion, sultanas, peas and corn kernels. Chill.
  5. An hour or so before serving add the fresh red pepper, spring onions, celery and grated carrot to the rice and mix through. Add the remaining dressing now too. Taste the salad and adjust with more salt, pepper, sugar, tamari or lemon juice. Keep the salad in the fridge until needed.
  6. At serving time, mix the herbs, nuts and seeds through the salad, keeping some back to scatter on top as garnish. Serve cold.


To cook brown rice by the absorption method

Rinse 1 1/2 cups brown rice and place in a saucepan with a dash of olive oil and three cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and stir a couple of times as it heats up. Then cover the pot and turn the heat down and simmer for about 35 minutes. Most of the water will have been absorbed by the rice or cooked away by then. Turn the heat off and let the rice stand (covered) for five to 10 minutes. Season the cooked rice with salt.


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