Rice Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts

The smartest food bloggers rave about the recipes they post in the first paragraph so you’re positively dying to click ahead and read the rest. Me? I kind of do that, but I also can’t help being a truth-teller. So yesterday, I was honest when I said that I loved the Franny’s Toasted Almond Gelato recipe I made, but I also said it tasted–just very slightly–like snot. Now I’m here to tell you about a rice salad that I made from Staffmeals (quickly becoming one of my most-used cookbooks) that I enjoyed, but not fully, mostly because of how I cooked the rice.

The concept of cooking a grain or a starch and flavoring it like a salad isn’t new to me. See my past experiences with quinoa, wheatberries, farro. Here, the star of the show is rice and you have to cook it right so it’s fluffy and firm and can hold up to the dressing. For some reason, despite following the recipe directions, my rice–long grain rice–came out super sticky and almost mushy.


Theory: I had the heat too high during the cooking process and overdid it. At this point, I had a friend coming over for dinner and didn’t have time–or the energy, really–to cook another batch of rice, so I used it despite the mushy/sticky qualities. Step one: add a dressing made with olive oil and vinegar.


Step two: add toasted pine nuts.


Then lots of good stuff: olives, scallions, red pepper, parsley, and dill.


Stir that all in and you’ve got rice salad.


I have a feeling, if I’d cooked the rice a little more carefully, this could’ve become a regular fixture at my dinner table or, more probably, at picnics or outdoor events. As it was, though, it had a gloppy quality that hopefully bothered me more than it did our dinner guests. This is a great base for any protein you want to serve; in this case, it was spatchcocked chicken.

Hey, I told you at the top of this post, I’m a truth teller. So if you’re not inspired to make this, I have no one to blame but myself. But something tells me you will make this because the only thing I didn’t like about it was the mushy rice which was totally my fault. Your ultimate conclusion should probably be: “This recipe is great, but this guy’s a putz.”

Recipe: Rice Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts

Summary: From Staffmeals.


  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted (pour ’em into a dry skillet and flip around on medium heat until they’re fragrant and golden)
  • 1/2 cup black olives, preferably Kalamata or other pungent but not oil-cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill leaves
  • Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Place the rice and water in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and the water is fully absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and let the rice cool for 20 minutes; it should still be a little warm. Transfer the rice to a large bowl.
  2. Place the oil and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. Add the dressing to the rice and toss to mix; the still-warm rice will absorb some of the dressing. Add the pine nuts, olives, scallions, bell pepper, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper and toss well to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve at room temperature.

Preparation time: 25 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

9 thoughts on “Rice Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts”

  1. I’m not sure why so many people have trouble with rice. The standard is a 2:1 ratio (water:rice), and that will do it for most people. However, I’ve found that the ratio is closer to 1.5:1 than 2:1. If I’m cooking rice at home, I bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil, dump in 1 cup of rice, give it a quick stir, and cover. Then, I turn the heat down to about as low as it goes on my smallest burner, and I set the timer for 20 minutes. As soon as that goes off, turn off the heat completely, and let it sit for another 5 minutes. Don’t take the lid off once until that last 5 minutes is up.

    Source: my dad is the CEO of a large rice company in Texas, and every single dinner we had while I was growing up had rice as a side dish. We’re rice pros, and potatoes were a huge deal when they made a dinner appearance.

  2. I’m shocked no one has sent you a rice cooker to review yet given all the gadgets you’ve seen over the years. I always thought they were a silly thing to buy but I have to say after my bajillionth rice mishap I bought one three years ago and I love it, the rice is perfect every time and you can even delay the starting time or keep the rice warm for hours. Mine’s an Aroma and it cost less than a entree at a nice restaurant.

  3. I’m a big rice cooker fan. However, my boyfriend introduced me to the boiling method, where you boil rice in a big pot of water just like pasta. This method is great for rice salad because the grain doesn’t clump together. And as long as you pull it out of the water before it’s overlooked, you’re good.


  4. marcella-not-hazan

    I’m with Marcella Lee, next time I’d try cooking the rice in boiling water, then drain it at once when it’s done and rinse it under running water (lukewarm if you don’t want it to cool completely) – I’m not surprised it turned mushy if you let it sit in the same pot you cooked it for 20 minutes more… It simply went on cooking by itself!

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