This sweet and savory rice salad with almonds, carrots, and raisins will bring warmth and new flavor combinations to your dinner table. In fact, it may even outshine the mains!
If you have always thought that rice salad recipes are boring and never super tasty, here is a recipe to prove you wrong. This Persian-style version is fragrant, delicious, and exceptionally good-looking.
Coming from a half-Persian household, Persian rice was something we ate several times a week (similar to coconut rice). To change things up, my mom would save some of the leftovers to transform into a cold salad with all the mix-ins!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Serve it hot or cold. This salad is amazing whether it is served warm or cold.
- Vegan and gluten-free. Made without dairy, eggs, or gluten, this is very diet friendly.
- The perfect recipe for leftover rice. Leftover rice doesn’t always serve a purpose. If you have leftover cooked long grain rice, use it as an excuse to make this delicious salad. You can even use sushi rice.
When I first served this rice salad recipe with some friends, there were a little intrigued by the ingredients but after one bite, they were swayed: this is the kind of salad you’d make over and over again!
What is rice salad made of?
This recipe doesn’t contain any special ingredients. It’s all about the unique combination of simple ingredients that make up the amazing sweet and savory flavor of this dish.
- Rice. I use basmati rice for this recipe as it is aromatic, soft, and fluffy once cooked. If you don’t have basmati rice, choose from other long-grain rice varieties.
- Almonds. Slivered or whole smoked. Almonds provide the crunch in the salad and add a nice nutty flavor.
- Carrots. Shredded. As we won’t be cooking the carrots it is important to shred and not cut them into chunky pieces.
- Raisins. I use golden raisins for this recipe not only because they complement the salad much better color-wise but because they are perfectly sweet, fruity, and chewy.
- Spices. Turmeric and saffron give the salad its signature golden yellow color and Middle Eastern flavors. I also like to add hot pepper flakes for mild heat.
- Salt. To taste.
- Lemon juice (optional). Drizzling lemon juice over the salad right before serving helps brighten up all flavors.
How to make a rice salad
To make this salad, cook the basmati rice and let it cool. Alternatively, save some leftover rice from another meal. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled rice with turmeric, saffron, salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
Add the shredded carrots, raisins, and almonds. Mix well until fully combined.
Finally, drizzle with lemon juice and serve immediately.
Like any good salad recipe, this one is very forgiving and easy to customize! Here are some ideas:
- Use currants instead of raisins. If you don’t like the sweet flavor the raisins provide, use currants instead. While currants and raisins have similar textures, currants are tangy and not as sweet as raisins.
- Add apples. Chopped apples will add a refreshing flavor and crunch to this rice salad.
- Experiment with the nuts. If you don’t have almonds at home, add some toasted cashews or walnuts to the salad.
- Use curry powder. Curry powder will give this rice salad a deeper earthy flavor and some pungency.
To store: Place salad in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. There is no need to reheat it before eating. Simply remove the salad from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
With this said, if you like to have this salad warm, reheat it in the microwave.
More salad recipes to try
- Green goddess salad
- Cauliflower potato salad
- Greek couscous salad
- German potato salad
- Japanese potato salad
- Orzo salad
Frequently asked questions
White rice has a mild flavor that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. You can add sweet, spicy, and savory flavors to rice by mixing it with spices, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Yes, this salad is gluten-free. If you have gluten intolerance, add this recipe to your favorites as it will come in handy when looking for easy but unique side dishes.
Rice Salad Recipe
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled basmati rice and add the saffron, salt, and turmeric and mix well.
- Stir through the shredded carrots, golden raisins and smoked almonds and mix until fully incorporated.
- Top with lemon juice and serve immediately.
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