Roasted Eggplant and Brown Rice Salad Recipe

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This healthful and satisfying roasted eggplant and brown rice salad recipe makes terrific picnic fare and an easy mid-summer lunch or dinner. 

Eggplant and Brown Rice Salad 780 _ Umami Girl


Add canned chickpeas if you like to bulk up this salad and make it unequivocally a complete meal. It’s great with or without.

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.

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Eggplant and Brown Rice Salad

This healthful salad makes terrific picnic fare and an easy mid-summer lunch or dinner. Keeps, tightly sealed, in the fridge for up to a week.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Serves 6


  • 1 cup (uncooked) long-grain brown basmati rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, diced small
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 oil-cured black olives, pitted and minced
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (yummy, but optional)
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Bring two cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 40 minutes or until water is absorbed. Cool slightly.
  2. 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 two Tablespoons of the olive oil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender.
  3. Pour the rice, roasted eggplant mixture, olives, feta (if using), 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.


Nutritional information for this recipe includes chickpeas.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 364 Total Fat:: 13.2g Carbohydrates:: 51g Fiber:: 9.2g Protein:: 12.4g

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  1. Karin Bues

    I just made this recipe and it is fabulous. Love it. I am so glad to find it.

  2. Carina

    i’ve made this – twice now! 😛 very tasty. good luck with the move!

  3. I think you and your family are on an exciting adventure. One that many family will be envious of. I myself have moved from HK to NZ thena cross the Atlantic to the states and you know what? I have finally found the place I will always come back to ~ Portland, Oregon!
    I am a new reader to your blog and am anxiously waiting to read about your new adventures.
    Good luck to you and have FUN!

  4. Katie @ Healthnut Foodie

    After pursuing my hubby’s career for over 8 years, I am happy to be home and starting my own business! Your recipe and your passion look awesome! Best of luck!

  5. It’s always a little edgy making a big move, but I’m sure in the end – you’ll know why you went, and be glad that you did! Good luck with everything!

    This salad looks absolutely delicious by the way =)

    1. Thanks, Peggy!

  6. Rachel

    As always, a poignant, thoughtful, and inspiring post. And just the recipe I needed to haul me out of my pasta salad rut. (thank you) And yes, I’ll keep reading too! (of course)

    1. And as always, my dear, thank you. xx

  7. I think it’s very exciting, and I will definitely keep reading. And if you make it to one of Ottolenghi’s restaurants you must promise to give a full report.

    1. Thanks, Kalyn. I appreciate your reading, in a big way! Finally got Ottolenghi’s Plenty the other day after seeing it at Powell’s when we visited Portland last month. I felt more inspired by the mere sight of it than I have by anything in quite a while. Will definitely visit and report back!