A Delicious Lemon Parsley Rice Salad

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The smell of parsley makes me think of Passover, and the Seders we had at our house.

All through the years when I was growing up, with different friends each time, I remember those dinners, when my mom would make a big meal that everyone raved about.

Vertical image of a white ceramic bowlful of white rice salad with parsley and bell pepper, garnished with a wedge of lemon, with a large wooden salad bowl full of the grain salad in the background, with a sprig of parsley and a mini red bell pepper in the background on a brown wooden table topped with a white kitchen towel.

On those nights, we’d dip sprigs of parsley in salt water — the parsley symbolizing spring and the newness of life, the salt water reminding us of the tears of the Israelites while they were in Egypt, before God parted the Red Sea and brought them out of captivity.

Until last night, that was the only meal where I’ve ever eaten parsley on its own. I’ve had it in plenty of things – like Thanksgiving stuffing, where it reduces from leafy stalks to tender, fragrant herbs on the stove, drenched in butter and sauteed with onions.

I know bits of it — dried or fresh — go into all kinds of marinades and rubs, and I know it’s very inexpensive to buy at the store. But when I saw the fat package of it in my CSA box, I figured I may as well give this formerly-only-of-the-holidays herb a chance to stand on its own, a chance for us to get to know each other in a new context.

Vertical image of a small red bell pepper, a sprig of parsley, and half of a lemon on a white cloth atop a brown wooden table, next to a wooden salad bowl filled with a salad made of white rice, minced parsley, and diced red pepper.

Enter this Lemon Parsley Rice Salad, adapted from Food + Wine. Besides the fact that this recipe calls for a full cup of packed, chopped parsley (which is exactly how much I had! Do you believe in fate?), it also requires half of a sweet pepper, which was a bonus in my learning-to-use-vegetables plan.

Now, as far as getting out of my comfort zone, I cheated a little with this one. I already knew I’d like it, when I saw the olive oil and fresh lemon juice listed among the ingredients. Between us, these two staples can usually make me like just about anything.

It took maybe 5 minutes to pull together because I had leftover cooked rice on hand, but even with that added step if I’d had to make it, it’s 20 minutes, tops — especially if you happen to have a good quality rice cooker.

The Food + Wine article that inspired me to try this dish made a big deal about the health benefits of parsley, which offers vitamins A, C and K, as well as very low calories, so I may as well point that out to you, too.

Vertical image of a forkful of rice salad with minced parsley and diced red pepper, with a white ceramic bowl filled with the salad and topped with a wedge of lemon in shallow focus in the background, on top of a brown wooden table with a pastel green-striped white kitchen towel spread on the table.

Plus, since this simple side is made without any onions or garlic, and it’s flavored with parsley, peppers, and lemon, it’s low FODMAP-friendly!

And don’t forget, rice is a gluten-free grain, meaning those with celiac or a gluten intolerance can enjoy it as well. This dish is perfect for potlucks, and it’s likely to be on the safe list for friends and family with food allergies and intolerances.

If you’re feeling really ambitious and want to be able to make this salad with produce from your own garden, you’ll love these helpful articles on growing sweet bell peppers and growing parsley from our sister site, Gardener’s Path.

Top-down view of a large wooden salad bowl filled with a white rice salad, with minced parsley and diced bell pepper, on a brown wooden surface topped with a white kitchen towel.

And as far as taste? Well, this very healthy, very easy salad is full of flavor, from the olive oil dispersed throughout to the bursts of lemon, to the creaminess of the rice, and the bitterness of the herbs.

I really like it, and I’m having some again for lunch today — although, to be completely honest, I think the parsley flavor will take some getting used to, at least while I have Elijah’s chair and ten drops of grape juice and matzo piled with haroset on my mind.

Next time, I’d chop the herb more finely, and I might reduce the quantity a bit. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to meet your taste preferences — that’s the fun of cooking, especially when you’re introducing new flavors and ingredients.

The Recipe

Square image of a white bowlful of salad comprised of white rice, diced red bell pepper, minced parsley, and a wedge of lemon on the side, on a white cloth.
The Best Lemon Parsley Rice Salad
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A bright and vibrant dish that pairs well with poultry or seafood, you're going to love this simple lemon and parsley rice salad.
Servings Prep Time
2 to 3 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 to 3 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Square image of a white bowlful of salad comprised of white rice, diced red bell pepper, minced parsley, and a wedge of lemon on the side, on a white cloth.
The Best Lemon Parsley Rice Salad
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A bright and vibrant dish that pairs well with poultry or seafood, you're going to love this simple lemon and parsley rice salad.
Servings Prep Time
2 to 3 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 to 3 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup tightly packed Italian flat leaf parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 1/2 small sweet Italian frying pepper or bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Lemon wedges for serving (optional)
Servings: to 3 servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. If you have not already, prepare the rice. If it's ready to go, add a splash of water and heat it up in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice and lemon zest in a large wooden salad bowl, and whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the rice, parsley, and diced pepper. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper again, to taste.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Nutritional Info*

Nutrition Facts
The Best Lemon Parsley Rice Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 388 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 48%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 22g
Sodium 889mg 37%
Potassium 263mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 68%
Vitamin C 162%
Calcium 5%
Iron 16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Mise en Place

To make this dish, I used leftover white basmati rice, cooked with a little butter, and reheated on the stove. If you don’t have leftover rice on hand like I did, go ahead and make your rice now, using a rice cooker or on the stovetop.

Wash the parsley thoroughly and chop to your desired fineness. Tiny bits or larger bits, the choice is yours to make.

Be sure to reach for Italian flat leaf, not curly parsley. The texture of the curly type is much coarser.

Wash the lemon, wipe it dry with a paper towel, and zest it with a microplane.

Now, juice the same lemon and set both the zest and juice aside for the dressing.

Overhead view of all of the ingredients needed to make a simple rice salad- small bowls of lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper, olive oil, cooked rice, diced red bell pepper, minced parsley, and half of a lemon, all on a white and pale green striped kitchen towel on a brown wooden surface.

Wash the sweet Italian frying pepper. Also known as Cubanelles, these are a bit longer and narrower than bell peppers, with skins that are a lighter shade of green.

Don’t confuse them with Italian long hots! These are not meant to be spicy.

If you want, you can also use a mini sweet bell pepper for this, in the color of your choice. I used a red one since that’s what I had on hand, and I think it provides a nice contrast with the green of the fresh herbs.

Remove the seeds, and cut the pepper into a small dice using a sharp knife.

Get the olive oil from the cupboard along with the salt and pepper. Freshly ground pepper is best, since you’ll get the most flavor from freshly ground spices. Time to reach for your trusty pepper mill!

Step 2 – Make the Dressing

You can make the dressing separately, but I usually like to save a dish. so I’ll make it in the same bowl that I’ll use to make the salad instead.

Place the lemon juice and lemon zest in a large wooden salad bowl, and whisk while pouring in the olive oil in a thin stream. Continue whisking to form an emulsion, then add salt and pepper to taste. I like to use a medium-sized balloon whisk for this step.

Top view of copper-colored whisk with a wooden handle, half of a lemon, and a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil in a small white bowl, on a white cloth with pale green stripes.

How do you know if your dressing has emulsified? You’ll no longer see any oil floating on the top. Instead, the oil and lemon juice will be uniform, smooth, and fully combined. Adding a dab of mayo or mustard can help to stabilize the emulsion if you need it.

Step 3 – Assemble the Salad

Add the rice, and toss with the dressing until well combined.

Top-down view of a large wooden salad bowl filled with white rice topped with a thick ring of minced parsley around the edge of the bowl, with a circular layer of red diced bell pepper in the center, on a brown wooden table topped with a white kitchen towel with panel green stripes.

Add the parsley and pepper next. Fold these ingredients into the salad until well combined. Give it a taste, and season with a little more salt and pepper if you need to.

Let’s Eat!

This is an amazing dish served warm or at room temperature. Be sure to include lemon wedges for an extra spritz of juice before you dig in.

I am such a big fan of this bright and fragrant dish, and I love that it’s so versatile. I served it alongside these shrimp tacos and it was truly amazing. This is definitely a great addition to any Taco Tuesday ensemble.

Top-down view of a white rice salad topped with minced parsley and red chopped bell pepper, on a brown wooden surface topped with a white cloth, with a mini bell pepper and half of a lemon.

Not a fan of shrimp? Be sure to check out our spicy pork tacos and vegetarian tacos too!

This recipe makes a great side dish, or an equally delicious lunch. Plus, it comes together in just minutes, and it’s easy to to double, triple, or make even more if you’re serving a crowd. The leftovers are great too – I love how the flavors meld together after a night spent in the fridge.

What would you pair this delightful salad with? Let us know in the comments below! You can find all of our leafy green and grain based salad recipes here.


Don’t forget to Pit It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a lemon parsley rice salad recipe in a wooden bowl and a close up on a fork.

Photos by Leslie Morrison, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing and editing by Leslie Morrison and Allison Sidhu. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on July 30th, 2009. Last updated: July 11, 2018 at 16:35 pm.

*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

20 thoughts on “A Delicious Lemon Parsley Rice Salad

  1. fresh parsley is one thing i’m not too crazy about in large quantities. one time i sent murdo out for cilantro for tacos and he brought back parsley. i kept thinking the entire time, “this taco tastes so weird…” haha parsley + mexican food doesn’t quite mix, fyi. but i do agree that lemon rocks.

  2. I’ll have to give this a try. I eat rice almost every day. It’s cheap and gluten free 🙂 My favorite is cilantro lime rice, but I’m always looking to try something new with my rice.

  3. reminds me of taboule!!! looks like the same taste… Im not fond of parsley though 🙂 but i sure love lemon and rice!!

  4. Parsley is something I’ve really just now learned to fully appreciate the flavor of. I love it…so utterly clean. I’d love to try this! Love your blog!

  5. great relation of food to memories – don’t you just get a kick when that happens? looks delicious.

    cheers,

    *heather*

  6. I’ve heard much about the healthy benefits of parsley, so good for you! I’m always looking for ways to use our parsley (who knew it was more than a garnish?!) – I’m going to have to try this rice.

    Have you tried making a Chimichurri sauce? This one is really good: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chimichurri/ – if I don’t have oregano I replace it with cilantro. It’s so good on grilled vegetables, in tacos, over potatoes, or on just about anything!

  7. I love rice, morning, noon, or night. I have a big rice cooker that makes 10 cups and keeps it serving temp for up to 24 hours. I will definitely chop the parsley superfine if I try this, because I don’t like the chewiness of it either.

    You take the best food photos! They make even the humblest ingredients look glamorous.

  8. Joanna – Yum, cilantro lime sounds great, too! I might have to try THAT!

    Rachel – I’ve never had that, but it came up in searches when I was looking for a parsley salad. Do you like it?

    Jacqui – Is it weird that I feel some measure of relief knowing you, my vegetable role model, doesn’t love parsley? So nice to hear.

    Rebekka – I think clean is a good description! And thanks for the compliment!

    Heather – Someday, I’ll probably be eating parsley and talking about that blog post I wrote back in the day…

    Amanda – I’ve never tried that sauce, but I absolute LOVE when people suggest recipes, so thank you! If next week’s CSA box is anything like this one, I will definitely try your suggestion!

    Kathi D – I know! Rice is so easy to love. And yeah, if you try this, really really fine—like food-processor fine. That might be nice. Thanks also for the compliment! I’ve been having such a time with my photos lately, but maybe the slump is on its way out.

  9. if you like this, you should definitely try taboule! or even if you don’t like this…molly katzen’s recipe for taboule is delicious…and has olive oil and lemon. 🙂

  10. I am a huge parsley fan! It’s not just for Passover, anymore! This salad looks fab, easy, and sooo fresh. Thanks!

  11. I will give this a try – lots of parsely in the garden right now! I love rice salads too – not something a lot of people think to make.

  12. Thanks, Kim!

    Elizabeth – I love Middle Eastern food!

    Hannah – OK, sold. Thanks for the tip!

    RedMenace – Thank YOU for the kind comment!

    Donalyn – Fresh parsley in your garden! A CSA is as close as I’ll come to that for now, but someday…

  13. You know, I didn’t give parsley its due until a few years ago when I made an eggplant lasagnette that called for (what seemed like) copious amounts of the fresh herb. I happened to have a bunch of Italian flat leaf on hand, so I threw it into the dish. And AH, what a fantastic difference it made!

    Since then, I’ll believe anything I read about the miraculous qualities of this herb. Especially, as you so wisely note, if it also contains a bit of lemon. It’s gotta be good.

  14. Parsley is one of those herbs I NEVER think is as important to the taste of a dish as it is. I don’t really like its flavor on its own, but I miss it when it’s … missing. Like celery.

  15. I just discovered your blog while pulling down the recipe for this salad so I could update my own blog with it. I love this salad! I also love your blog! 🙂

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