French rice salad for when you’re on the go

A colorful French rice salad. —Paul Bagnall

Perhaps one of the most straightforward and flexible recipes I have tried is rice salad. Hot or cold, oil or vinaigrette, veggies or meat — there are many ways to approach it. The idea came to me while listening to “Splendid Table” on the Cape and Islands NPR station in my car on the way to work. I heard rice salad, and it sounded like a great recipe to experiment with.

Rice salad can be hot or cold, depending on the ingredients you use. The rice salad I chose to make took some inspiration from a Niçoise salad, which is a French salad that uses tuna fish and capers. I experimented with cold ingredients.

Since the recipe is incredibly flexible, you can use vinegar, vinaigrette, or oil to coat the rice. I used two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil for the two cups of rice I cooked.

The goal I keep in mind is to make the salad as colorful as possible without one flavor overshadowing another. If you like crunchy vegetables, some red onion or any colorful pepper will do.

I also recommend that you cut up the veggie, or meat, to about the size of the rice pieces. Rice salad is a great way to experiment with many different spices, herbs, and oils.


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup capers
  • 10 diced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 can tuna fish
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Boil two cups of rice and defrost the frozen peas, then rinse the rice in cold water before putting in the fridge for 20 minutes. While the rice is cooling, prepare the tomatoes, tuna fish, and garlic by dicing them on the cutting board. Mix a little oregano and thyme into the tuna fish, so it blends in better. Remove the cold rice from the fridge and toss the rice in with the oil, lemon juice, vegetables, and seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.