Spinach Pecan Brown Rice Salad with Feta makes a healthy weekday lunch or a hearty salad for a weekend picnic. An easy, make ahead cold rice salad. This recipe is vegetarian, easily vegan and gluten free.
Brown rice salad fans, you’re going to love this nutty, toothsome, hearty and fiber packed rice salad. Brown rice makes an excellent canvas for so many fresh and in season veggies, but especially in hearty cold rice salads.
Make Ahead and Meal Prep Ready
Since short grain brown rice takes a while to cook, it can be prepped ahead of when needed, at least two days in advance. When ready to assemble the salad, toss all the ingredients together and share.
But what’s also so convenient about this cold rice salad is that it can hang out in the fridge for days. I love prepping it on the weekend and having this hearty salad ready to go for week day lunches. It makes the work week so much less stressful!
How to Make this Brown Rice Salad Recipe
The rice needs time to chill before assembling the final salad so if needed, the rice can be cooked at least two days in advance.
- First, cook the short grain brown rice and chill it in the fridge for freezer.
- Second, toast the pecans, and chop. Meanwhile chop the bell pepper, onions, spinach, olives and crumble the feta.
- Next, whip up the simple dressing. Whisk or shake in a jar lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Last, once the brown rice is chilled, mix all the ingredients together.
This healthy salad can hang out in the fridge for up to three days. Or be whisked away to a potluck or picnic!
A Few Recipe Notes
- Short or long grain brown rice can be used in this hearty salad recipe. If using long grain, follow the package directions for preparation as cooking times vary between short and long grain.
- Make it Vegan? Yes please! Simply leave the feta off or add vegan feta.
- What kind of olives? I like green or black. If going for green olives, choose the buttery variety rather than the briny, sharp flavored olives.
- If you can get your hands on chive flowers, incorporate them into your salad (organic gardens only!). They are edible!
More Brown Rice Recipes to Love
- Spanish Brown Rice
- Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice Salad
- Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers
- Roasted Fennel, Mushroom, White Bean Brown Rice Gratin
- Mushroom Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Spinach Pecan Brown Rice Salad
For the Salad:
- 1 C Short Grain Brown Rice 210g
- 2 C Water
- 3/4 C Pecans halves 90g
- 1 C Green Bell Pepper, diced (1 large) 130g
- 3/4 C Black or Green Olives, whole then sliced 126g
- 1/4 C Purple Onion, small dice 40g
- 2 C Fresh Spinach, chopped into bite size pieces 80g
- 1/2 C Feta Cheese, crumbled (optional) 80g
- 1/4 C Parsley, chopped 6g
For the Dressing:
- Zest of one Lemon
- 3-4 Tbs Lemon Juice, adjust to taste
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt + more to taste
- Combine the brown rice and water in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Stir once, put the lid on and cook on low for about 30 minutes. Let rice sit uncovered for 5 minutes, stir again, then spread it out on to a parchment lined sheet pan to cool in the freezer for at least 1/2 hour. The rice can be made one day ahead and chilled overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the pecans for 13-14 minutes, or until fragrant and slightly darker. Set aside to cool. Chop into small pieces.
- Combine the rice, pecans, bell pepper, olives, onion, spinach, feta and parsley. Set aside.
- To make the dressing, squeeze the lemon juice and zest into a bowl, whisk in the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.
- For best flavor, chill for at least 1/2 an hour then serve. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
I was in a hurry to get this salad on the dinner table and didn’t cool the rice, but it was delish and the family loved it.
Hi Karen! Thank you for your note and giving the salad a go! SO happy to hear you’re enjoying it – warm too!
This was simple to make and very delicious.
Hi Eva! Thank you for your note. It’s a win-win!
This was easy to make and delicious to eat!
Thank you, I’ll be making this often.
SO happy to hear, Caryn! Thank youuuu for your note!
I don’t often write a review. However, this salad more than exceeded my expectations. Made this for a girlfriends lunch. All brought salads or appetizers. Not only was this good, but over the next couple of days, the flavor absolutely blossomed. So wonderful,that I think I would make it a day ahead next time! Thank you for the fantastic recipe Traci.
Hiii Janette! Thank you for coming back and leaving a note. Hooray for a salad that exceeds expectations!… isn’t brown rice such a flavorful base for this salad?
M Colleen Golden
I LOVE this salad! This is on constant rotation in the summer and is PERFECT for meal prep! We feel so good eating it and it makes great leftover lunches!! Thanks Traci for yet another DELICIOUS recipe!
Hi Colleen! Thank you for your note and giving the recipe a try! SO happy to hear you’re enjoying the salad and how it fits into meal prep for you. To have it on the ready in the fridge is such a delight!
Absolutely delicious!! I can always count on your recipes to deliver. Loved it!
Hiii Christine! Hooray! SO happy to hear and, I appreciate your note!
So, so good! I’ve been making this almost every week during the summer when I can’t bear the thought of standing over a hot stove! It’s perfect for meal prep and is Hearty, nutritious and it has my favorite- olives! Thanks Traci for another great recipe!
Hi Colleen! SO happy to read your note. Thank you for giving the recipe a go! Isn’t it such a delicious hearty salad for Summer? And yes to those olives (swooon!)!
I added vegan Feta cheese (vegan brand) and this was DELICIOUS!!!
My husband loved it and asked for more!
Beautiful collection of salads (made me hungry)! They’re all perfect for summer! Congratulations on the release of your book – can’t wait for my copy to arrive!
I make this regularly. I’m not a fan of olives…I added about a cup of golden raisins and dried cranberries. I also used Myer lemon oil for that extra kick and about 1/4 c of organic honey. Soooooo yummy!
I just made this for the first time. Wow! This is a keeper. (I’m not a huge fan of feta and subbed it with queso fresco. It’s perfect!)
Hi Ann! Thank you for your note. So happy you’re enjoying the recipe. Queso fresco sounds fabulous!
I LOVE this salad and so does my husband! I’ve been making it once a week since I discovered it about a month ago. The only change I make is to add an extra tablespoon of olive oil =)
So happy to hear this, Jen! This salad is one of my favorites on the blog… I make it frequently! Thank you for your note!
hey I love your recipe! I surely will try this myself
Thank you Matt! :D
Any chance you can fix the formatting in the recipe? The html code seems to have invaded.
Thank you, Ann! I just updated my recipe cards and thought I had them all fixed. Thank you for alerting me! :D
Can’t wait to try this recipe Traci! Looks fabulous!
It’s fabulous, Jess! You’re going to love the pop of briny from those olives! :D
Saw this one from Instagram and it looks amazing! Really love how the salad uses brown rice! Can’t wait to try it out!
Thank you Jess, for coming by! I hope you love it!
Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about your house troubles! That’s always such a bummer, but I think settling in with this salad and Netflix sounds like the perfect cure. I haven’t seen Cooked but I listened to the audiobook and it was really interesting. I tuned out some it (mainly the BBQ section) so I think it would be good for me to watch it and refresh my memory. I’ll have to make this salad to go with it when I do! ;)
Comes with the territory.. homeownership! :0 ! LOL on the BBQ.. well, you wouldn’t like watching that part either!
Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron
I love a salad that can sit in the fridge for a few days, too…perfect for a work lunch or just lazy days :) Looks absolutely delicious, Traci!
Totally, me too Denise! They’re the ultimate convenience! :D
Julia | Orchard Street Kitchen
Hellooo my friend! I took a little hiatus from blogging, but it’s so good to be back and catch up on all your gorgeous recipes! This salad is definitely up my alley – the salty olives and feta, the beautiful green spinach, the nutty rice and sweet pecans…you’ve done it again!
I am not a homeowner yet, but my friends and family always tell me that fixing fun things like pipes is one of the best parts ;) Hopefully your woes have come to an end and you can relax! I saw the first episode of Cooked but haven’t watched another yet. The first episode was definitely not as pleasant to watch as a vegetarian, but I completely agree that his point about getting closer to food is so important. Hopefully as a society we can rekindle our traditions of cooking and sharing meals together.
Well helllooooo Julia! So happy to *see you! Yeah, pipes is one of the best parts! I wont tell you, then, how one day I came to realize our carpet was soaking wet under the bed. Why yes.. it was a leaky pipe, in the wall (this is on a brand new home, only 5 years old). So the part of the wall had to come down as well as part of the carpet. A complete mess and inconvenience! Even buying a new home doesn’t insure everything will work ;/ . I hope you enjoy this salad, Julia! And welcome back! xo
Tessa | Salted Plains
We haven’t watched Cooked yet but I’m always looking for more things I can add to my Netflix list. :) I’m glad you have enjoyed it so far – makes me excited to watch!
Doesn’t it always seem that everything breaks at the same time? It’s like a rule of the universe. Hopefully you guys had a little bourbon. ;) This salad sounds fabulous and hearty. Will be making very soon! <3
It’s learning overload for sure, but such important perspective, especially given how almost all of our food is grown by corporations. Their interest lies in profits, not the health and welfare of the people they serve. augh…
LOL – a swig of vodka, actually with all that cherry limeade syrup I had! I threw some in the freezer too! LOL!
Thank you so much for your kind comments Sonal! My mom would absolutely love your roast chicken stuffed with this recipe! Definitely lighter than bread crumbs. So happy to hear you’ve seen Cooked. It is an important film. I thought it particularly interested at the inverse relationship between obesity and the amount of time spent cooking or preparing to cook. It’s crazy that we believe food manufactures marketing more than we believe our own intuition (by in large). Advertising is powerful, as they know how to play on our psychology. I appreciate too how Pollan emphasis cooking as not a chore, but as a way to nourish our bodies, minds, families and as a way to help us stay grounded to our Earth. Like you said, ‘an honest connection.’
Hi Traci, I only want to check if I found a RICE SALAD recipe on your page because I deciced to cook something with Rice this evening. And look at this?! The first recipe I see is a Rice salad. How CRAZY IS THAT??? Too funny.
Love it Janine! That’s the funniest thing! I hope you and your love enjoy it! xo
Celeste | The Whole Serving
It’s amazing how salads have evolved, they used to be just a side dish or what you had before the main course, now they are the main course. I am so happy about it because I love big bold salads. This is a big and beautiful one.
I couldn’t agree more, Celeste! Salads have come a long way as has the variety of grains to enjoy with them. I absolutely love big salads during Summer.. when it’s just too hot to do anything near a stove!
Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
What a pain! We seem to be unlucky when it comes to things breaking as well – within 1 month of each other our stove stopped working (twice!) and our fridge randomly lost power and we had to throw out all our food. Not fun!
This salad looks like the perfect fresh dinner side! I love the flavour punch that feta adds to a meal.
Oh NO! Chelsea, did you get your oven working? And all that food? How awful and such a waste indeed.
I am sorry to hear that things have been breaking on you. I know the feeling very well. I also know that when it rains it pours. Oh how much I hate that…
I too started updating old recipes and have been enjoying the love that I get from my friends and readers. I love how easy to make and refreshing this salad is Traci. And the photos.. breathtaking!
PS: We binge watched Cooked in two days back in winter of this year. I love Michael Pollen and his storytelling. Very informative and eye opening, indeed.
Thaaank you Aysegul! It’s a good time to reshoot and rewrite where needed! No doubt Pollen’s work is important and timely. But what he articulates is how I feel.. so much so! We watched Water this weekend! Can’t wait for Air. Sooo good.
Sarah | Well and Full
Now that my guy is a homeowner, I’ve started to see the messy side of owning a house too. Luckily we haven’t had any serious plumbing issues yet! I’m glad you were able to get everything sorted…. hopefully you won’t hear that alarm go off again for a veeeeery long time ;)
Oh yeah, you know, it’s ‘the american dream..’ LOL – Yeah, I hope to never hear that alarm again.. although, I know at some point I will. :D Ohhh the joys! xo
I reflex smile when I see vanilla and bean pop up in my email. I always like the recipes I try and I’ll definitely make this brown rice salad. What I enjoy most about your lovely place here is how natural and fresh it is. I appreciate your work – obviously labors of love.
Thank you so much for your kind comments, Gloria. It means so much to hear from you! I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Rachel @ Bakerita
Your weekend sounds hectic! Glad you got your plumbing issue fixed in a semi-timely manner, though. This salad is incredibly beautiful, and you styled it like a pro with those beautiful little flowers! I rarely make grain-based salads, but my family loves them, so I don’t know why not. I need to pick up the ingredients for this at my next farmer’s market visit – extra pecans please! :)
Thank you Rachel! Those little flowers are so pretty and from various herb pots around our home. They make a salad look all fancy! :D I hope you enjoy this Rachel!
Hi Traci. Recently discovered VanillaandBean. Great sight! Been perusing the recipes. Great ideas for a guy and his family going more vegetarian. Been severe Celiac for years. Have GF blog and have GF baking book in the works. Love so many of your ideas and combos, lending themselves to allowing me to de-glutenize them (my favorite made up Celiac word). Found your sight by searching for Sweet Potato Veggie Burger. Wanted something with lentils, too. Your recipe hit that and more! We eat lots of quinoa, and I have added it to my veggie burgers, patties, etc. But your recipe really hit the trifecta with the addition of Kale! With so much growing in my garden, I put it in everything…almost… ; ) But your Sweet Potato Lentil Quinoa Kale Burger was wonderful!! Now this simple Brown Rice Spinach Pecan Salad looks so good, healthy, and easy. I tend to take liberties with most on-line recipes…but I think this one will be tried as you suggested. Thanks for such a wonderful sight! Thanks also for including GF options…there are SO many of us out there who appreciate that consideration!!.
Hey Scott! Welcome and thank you for your kind comments! It’s so good to hear from you. That veggie burger, yeah, I get it. I’d love it if you could leave a comment on that recipe perhaps sharing how you made it GF? So happy you love it. That continues to be a favorite here.. in fact, It’s time to make it again.. I’ve missed it. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the blog. Congratulations on your shift to vegetarian eating, starting your own blog and writing a book!!
I love seeing the bowl in your beautiful hands, Traci! Fills my heart!
This is a most beloved bowl, Deb. I need to order three more! Your comment makes me so happy! xo
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I hate when things go wrong at the house too Traci! This week was our week with problems with the cars! Ugh! Both my car and the extra one Casey drives had to go into the shop!! Bills, bills, bills! Oh well! What a gorgeous salad this is. The colors and the list of ingredients have me drooling.I love the simple, light lemon dressing too. Perfect for summer my friend! Can’t wait to give this one a try! Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for sharing!
It happens, right? I’m attempting have more gratitude in my daily thoughts… so I kept telling myself I’m grateful for people who repair plumbing on the weekend! I hope the cars got repaired at an ultra low rate! :D I hope you enjoy this recipe my dear! xo
Sarah @ Snixy Kitchen
I’ve not seen Cooked, but Lucas and I were just talking about how we need something new on Netflix to get addicted to! I’ll add it to the list. I”m so glad you didn’t end up with poop in the house (I just said poop on your blog!) and everything’s in working order again!
This salad is gorgeous and I love how each bite has so many different flavors. It’s no wonder you make it over and over again!
Thank you Sarah! There’s so much to watch on Netflix! I’ve started a list.. what do you recommend? We’ll continue with Cooked this weekend. (lol Poop!) :D
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
I could eat a whole giant bowl of this, Traci! Just so good – and I remember thinking the same thing the first time you posted it :) – love the new photos! As for plumbing disasters – they can become really alarming really fast. I just had a pipe burst inside the walls of my house – thank goodness I was home – it would have been a really disaster if I had been at work!
Geraldine… Thank you for coming back.. I think you were one of my first commenters/followers! Thank you for your support. I’m sending you a virtual hug! OMGeee a busted pipe in the wall!? Whaaat? Awful, indeed! I’m so glad you were home. What a relief!
This salad is GORGEOUS! Love the flowers and the green hues I am such a fan of feta in salads :)
So many flowers coming up all around the house.. lots of chamomile and thyme.. it’s so pretty! Thank you Medha!
Just made this and it was amazing. I’m so bored with lettuce salads and found it so tasty and easy to make. Even my meat loving husband keep sneaking into the fridge w a spoon. Made him a contain of his own. it, Thank you so much for sharing it.
Hooray Robin! Thank you so much for sharing and enjoying the recipe. I know what you mean about lettuce salads. One needs variety, right? I LOL at your husband! Rob just requested this salad yesterday.. I’ve not made it in a while.. so it’s time! He loves it too! ;D
Hi Traci! This salad looks yummy! Cannot wait to try it out! Sad to hear about Claire, it is truly hard to lose a long time family pet that is close to your heart.
Thank you Kelsey, for your sweet thoughts. <3