This healthful and satisfying brown rice salad with roasted eggplant and feta is equally packed with rich umami flavor and vital nutrients. It's make-ahead friendly and great warm or cold.
Why we love this recipe
Healthy and hearty vegetarian comfort food really has my heart. This salad ticks all the boxes that make it great. It's:
- Bursting with deep, savory flavor
- Hearty and nutrient-dense, yet won't weigh you down
- Make-ahead and meal-prep friendly
- Great warm or at room temperature
I first published this recipe here in July of 2011, right before we moved to London. I've updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same. If you like reading old-school blog content, you can scroll below the recipe card to read the original story.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- Whether white or brown (as we use here), basmati rice is my favorite long-grain variety due to its almost magical flavor and aroma. You can substitute regular brown rice if that's what you've got.
- Use about a pound of fresh eggplant. I tend to reach for a good old Italian eggplant here, but you can use any variety. Here's a great place to learn more about them.
- Moroccan oil-cured black olives have an intense savory flavor. Learn more here if you like, or substitute another favorite olive type if you prefer.
- Add cooked chickpeas (canned is fine) if you like, to bulk up this salad and make it unequivocally a complete meal. It's great with or without.
How to make it
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make a great batch of eggplant and basmati brown rice salad. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Cook the rice according to the recipe card below, or in the Instant Pot like this. (That's become my favorite method.)
- Meanwhile, roast the eggplant, onion, and garlic until tender.
- Place all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
- Toss gently to mix well. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Expert tips and FAQs
Brown rice salad with roasted eggplant is super make-ahead friendly. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.
More favorite recipes with rice
- 1 cup raw brown basmati rice
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 1 medium eggplant (about one pound/455 grams), peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, diced small
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, divided
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 15 oil-cured black olives, pitted and minced
- 2 ounces (56 grams) feta cheese, crumbled
- 6 large fresh basil leaves, minced
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (optional)
- Juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tablespoons/30 ml)
- In a medium pot, combine rice, 1 ¾ cups water, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 40 minutes or until water is absorbed. Cool slightly. (See note 1).
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle.
- On a large rimmed baking sheet, place the diced eggplant, onion, and garlic. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Toss to coat evenly and spread in a single layer.
- Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender.
- Pour the rice, roasted eggplant mixture, olives, feta, basil, and chickpeas (if using) into a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss gently to combine.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Alternatively, you can cook the rice in the Instant Pot like this. It's become my favorite method.
- To make this dish vegan, simply leave out the feta. To bulk it up, instead of chickpeas, try cooked lentils or diced chicken breast.
- Brown rice salad with roasted eggplant is super make-ahead friendly. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.
- Nutritional information for this recipe includes chickpeas.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 364Total Fat: 13.2gCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 9.2gProtein: 12.4g
Here's the original story behind this recipe.
T minus 13 days
Right. So it’s T minus 13 days until the movers come to pack up all of our hopes, dreams, and other non-electronic possessions to be shipped over the Atlantic to London. With any luck, they’ll arrive intact, and not too long after we do. With any luck.
We were sitting down to dinner the other night — one of those slightly unfortunate dinners when we allowed our dorky individual dietary preferences to get in the way of a single, unifying homecoming of a meal. One of us turned to the others. It hardly matters who, because we’ve all been feeling the same thing. “But, we’re pretty happy here,” the one said. “Why are we doing this, again?”
Did it have something to do with adventure, or growth, or horizons, maybe? Or coming back with cool accents as souvenirs for the kids? Or was it tea and scones we were going for? We couldn’t remember, for a minute.
The kind of food that reminds me who we are
But then we realized. The point of this whole gig is that we have no idea, yet, why we’re going. If we already knew the outcome, the going would be a giant waste of time. A supersized waste, really. Which is so totally American that they probably wouldn’t even approve our Visas. And we would deserve it.
So we’ll go, and I’ll keep writing. And if I’m lucky, you’ll keep reading. And maybe someday, together, we’ll figure out why we went.
That will all be super brave and awesome. But for now, the mere thought of it sends me running straight home — really home — to the kind of food that reminds me who we are, and why we’re here, before it all begins. This is it.