Colourful Brown Rice and Quinoa Salad with Herbs

This colourful and delicious Brown Rice and Quinoa Salad is a wholesome twist on a classic tabbouleh recipe. Full of nutrient-dense goodness and fresh flavours it makes a tasty vegan and gluten-free side dish.

colourful brown rice and quinoa salad in a bowl

My love of tabbouleh goes hand in hand with my love for Middle Eastern cuisine. There is nothing better than sharing a delicious mezze platter, with all those delicious breads, dips and tabbouleh of course. This Colourful Brown Rice and Quinoa Salad recipe is inspired by this classic tabbouleh salad. A refreshing Middle Eastern dish traditionally made with bulgur wheat, chopped parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a lemony dressing. 

In this brown rice salad recipe, I’ve given it a wholesome makeover by swapping the bulgur for a protein and fibre-rich red & white quinoa blend and adding a mix of red, wild and brown rice for a satisfying complex carbohydrate. I cheat slightly in that I use pre-cooked packets by Merchant Gourmet, which saves so much time. This means this easy salad can be ready and on the table in under 15 minutes! 

Feel free to experiment with different vegetables! This recipe is incredibly versatile, but I must say that this particular combination of fresh ingredients is pure magic. They come together to make this salad absolutely incredible.

closeup of brown rice and quinoa salad on a spoon

Why This Brown Rice and Quinoa Salad is Great for You, Especially if You Have Diabetes

This salad is just so good for you, making it a fantastic addition to any healthy meal plan, especially if you’re managing diabetes. Here’s why:

  • Whole Grains: Brown rice and quinoa are both whole grains, meaning they contain the bran and the germ, which are packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Fibre helps regulate blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates.
  • Low Glycemic Index: This recipe uses ingredients with a low glycemic index (GI), which means they won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. You can read more about it in this article
  • Fresh Veggies: They’re low in calories and carbohydrates but high in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Fiber is another superstar for blood sugar control, as it helps slow down digestion.
  • Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, a staple in the Mediterranean diet, provides healthy fats that promote satiety and heart health.

What you’ll need to make this hearty grain salad

ingredients for brown rice & quinoa salad

Merchant Gourmet Red & White Quinoa

  • Convenient, simply cooked and an easy way to add more plant protein & fibre into your meals

Merchant Gourmet Wholegrain Brown, Red & Wild Rice

  • Great source of fibre that’s convenient and with no added nasties

Spring Onion

  • Adds a more subtle and gentle onion flavour to the salad

Lemon

  • Adds a zesty freshness to the simple lemony dressing. Plus a hit of vitamin C

Extra virgin olive oil

  • Loaded with healthy fats to add balance, a little is a great addition to your diet

Canned Chickpeas

  • A nutritional superstar, rich in plant-based protein, full of fibre and nutrients
  • Give a nutty taste and a nice grainy texture to the salad

Baby Tomatoes

  • Naturally sweet and a brilliant source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has many health benefits
  • Also a great source of vitamin C and K

Cucumber

  • Has a high water content and is loaded with vitamin K
  • Adds a lovely watery crunch to this salad

Fresh Dill, Fresh Coriander & Fresh Parsley

  • The combination of fresh herbs lifts the flavours in this salad

Equipment Needed

Spatula / Mixing spoon

Fine Zester

Large Mixing Bowl

Weighing Scales

Chopping board

Sharp Kitchen Knife

How to make Brown Rice & Quinoa Salad with Herbs

Another truly easy and nutritious salad recipe to make. With a little chopping and mixing you can enjoy a delicious gluten-free and vegan-friendly side. Perfect for BBQs, Picnics or simply to serve with your choice of protein for a light dinner.

Here’s how to make it:

ingredients for brown rice & quinoa salad

Step 1

Start by preparing all of your ingredients.

brown rice and quinoa in a bowl

Step 2

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa and brown rice, crumbling them with your hands to get rid of any clumps

brown rice salad with chickpeas in a bowl with a spoon

Step 3

Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well until everything is combined and coated in the lemony dressing.

Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Recipe Variations

This recipe is endlessly customizable! Here are some ideas to add your own twist:

  • Want to add more protein? Try tossing in some cooked black beans, grilled chicken, or crumbled feta cheese.
  • Love a bit of a kick? Add chopped red chilli or a sprinkle of chili powder and cayenne pepper for a spicy twist.
  • Forgot the fresh herbs? Substitute 2 teaspoons of dried dill and 1 teaspoon each of dried coriander and parsley
  • Go Mediterranean! Swap the fresh herbs for fresh mint and Kalamata olives or black olives.
  • Hearty Protein: For a more filling salad crumble some feta cheese, add some sliced grilled chicken and add a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Want to add more colour? Dice up a red, yellow, or green bell peppers or for a sweet touch add some pomegranate seeds for extra colour and crunch.
closeup of quinoa and brown rice salad in a bowl with a spoon

Serving Suggestions

This salad is a perfect side dish, great as a big BBQ salad that everyone can help themselves to or even as a light lunch on a bed of leafy greens. I particularly love this salad served with my Greek Roast Chicken. But  here are some other suggestions for you:

Serve it alongside grilled chicken, salmon, or your favourite protein with an extra veggie side like Roasted Peppers & Aubergine Salad or a Herby Green Bean Salad for a very healthy meal.

For a Lunch on the go, this salad can be easily packed in an airtight container for a satisfying and healthy lunch.

Add a bed of leafy greens for extra nutrients and a vibrant presentation.

Make a Mezze board and serve with hummuspickled red cabbage, Pitta bread and falafel

Create a delicious grain bowl with leafy greens a scoop of your favorite hummus and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

WHat to do with Leftovers

Leftovers store well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Enjoy this salad throughout the week for a quick and healthy meal prep option

Diabetes Note

This colourful brown rice and quinoa salad is a fantastic option for those looking to keep their blood sugar levels in check. The combination of whole grains like brown rice and quinoa provides sustained energy without spiking your blood sugar, thanks to their low glycemic index. Plus, the fibre in these grains helps keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing cravings and aiding in portion control.

This recipe is also light on processed ingredients and no added sugars, making it an easy and delicious way to support your diabetes management goals.

Carb Counting

The overall carb count for this Quinoa & Brown Rice salad based on the ingredients we would count for is calculated as follows:

  • 250g Packet of Merchant Gourmet Red & White Quinoa = 77.5g of carbs
  • 250g Packet of Merchant Gourmet Wholegrain Brown, Red & Wild Rice = 72.5g of carbs

Total Countable Carbs = 77.5+72.5 = 150g of carbs

To work out the carb count amount by weight you need to know the overall weight of the salad (minus the dish) with all ingredients added. You can then use the following formula:

infographic of the diabetic carb counting formula

As an example – The total weight of the salad I made was 1170g (minus the bowl weight)

Therefore a 100g portion would be: (150 / 1170) * 100 = 13g of carbs

For more tips and help with carb counting, make sure to read MASTERING CARB COUNTING: A TYPE 1 MUM’S GUIDE 

Please note this carb count amount per portion is based on the standard ingredients listed above and may differ depending on what you use and how much you choose to eat.

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Brown Rice and Quinoa Salad with Herbs

Brown Rice and Quinoa Salad with Herbs

Recipe by Michelle

This Brown Rice and Quinoa Salad is packed with protein, fibre, and fresh flavours. It’s a perfect side dish to a healthy, satisfying meal.

Course: Sides, SaladsCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Very Easy
5.0 from 1 vote
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

0

minutes
Total time

15

minutes
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Ingredients

  • 250 g 250 Merchant Gourmet Red & White Quinoa

  • 250 g 250 Merchant Gourmet Wholegrain Brown, Red & Wild Rice

  • 2 2 spring onions, chopped

  • 1 can 1 chickpeas, drained

  • 200 g 200 baby/cherry tomatoes, quatered

  • 200 g 200 cucumber, chopped into small chunks

  • 20 g 20 fresh corriander, finely chopped

  • 20 g 20 fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 10 g 10 fresh dill, finely chopped

  • 1 large 1 lemon

  • 2 tbsp 2 extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  • Start by preparing all your chopped ingredients.
  • Then in a large bowl, combine the quinoa and brown rice, crumbling them with our hands to get rid of any clumps
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well until everything is combined and coated in the lemony dressing
  • Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Equipment

Tips and Notes

  • Leftovers will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Enjoy this salad throughout the week for a quick and healthy meal prep option
  • Diabetes Note – The combination of whole grains like brown rice and quinoa provides sustained energy without spiking your blood sugar, thanks to their low glycemic index. Plus, the fiber in these grains helps keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing cravings and aiding in portion control. See above for Carb Counting Information

Michelle Rorke avatar

AUTHOR

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