An Ottolenghi Rice Salad


It goes without saying that I’m a stubborn gal, especially when it comes to trends. Fashion, food, music, you name it.

Sometimes I wonder, though, what I might have missed out on. I don’t think it was kale chips, overnight oats, grilled lemons, or salads in jars. I might have missed out of zoodles if I hadn’t received a spiralizer as a gift.

In the 80’s basil pesto and sun-dried tomatoes were sooo trendy that I refused to try them. I lost quite a few tasty years as a result of my stubbornness. I’ve since made up for lost time!

In any case, I remember when everybody was making food from Ottolenghi’s cookbook, entitled “Plenty.” I gave the cookbook as gifts, but refused to purchase one for myself.


Then “Jerusalem” came along.


Then, “Ottolenghi.”


Then, as if Plenty wasn’t enough, there came “Plenty More.”


There might be more cookbooks written by Yotam Ottolonghi and Sami Tamimi, his business partner and chef, but Plenty was the first one of which I became aware. The recipes in Plenty and Plenty More are vegetarian, but not the other two. Mr. Ottolenghi himself is not a vegetarian; I love that he embraces lovely, vibrant food in general, meaty or meatless.

Also because of my stubborness, it was a while before I went to an Ottolenghi restaurant in London during the years my daughter lived there. In July of 2014, our last visit to London before she moved back to the states, we went to Nopi for lunch, located in Soho. And what a fabulous experience it was.

I wrote a post about it entitled “How I met Yotam Ottolenghi,” because the manager looked so much like him I thought I really had. In reality, they look nothing alike except that they both both wear glasses.

So I now own three books by Ottolenghi, although not Plenty, and one night I read through them marking recipes and choosing one to make that exemplifies his food, which was not easy. I stayed away from his classic “this and that with tahini and pomegranates.” (Stubbornness, again!)

This is what I chose.


Rice Salad with Nuts and Sour Cherries
from Plenty More

Scant 1 cup wild rice
Scant 1 1/4 cups basmati rice (I used brown)
5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup quinoa (I used millet)
6 1/2 tablespoons almonds, skins on, coarsely chopped
7 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup sunflower oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
2 cups arugula
2/3 cup dried sour cherries
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt, pepper

Place the wild rice in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 35 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still firm.


Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside to dry.

Mix the basmati rice with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place in a saucepan with 1 1/3 cups of boiling water, cover, and cook over the lowest possible heat for 15 minutes.


Remove from the heat, place a tea towel over the pan, replace the lid, and set aside for 10 minutes. Uncover and allow to cool down completely.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the quinoa. Cook for 9 minutes, then drain into a fine sieve, refresh under cold water, and set aside.


Place the almonds and pine nuts in a small pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a small plate as soon as the pine nuts begin to color and set aside.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large saute pan and add the onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Cook over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often, so that parts of the onion get crisp and others just soft. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Place all of the grains in a large bowl along with the chopped herbs, arugula, fried onion, nuts, and sour cherries. Add the lemon juice and zest, the remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some pepper.

Mix well and set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.



note: As with most all of Ottolenghi’s recipes, they are specific, and require many steps. In the write-up about this recipe, he actually apologizes for the need for so many pots! I read about how he came to the point when he realized that to test recipes, one must be exact; no handfuls of this and that. So exact they are! I seriously doubt that this salad would taste any differently with 7 tablespoons of almonds instead of 6 1/2! In fact, in my mind, it should really read “6 1/2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped almonds.” Oh well. His food is fabulous and this is a great recipe.


verdict: This is, not surprisingly, a delicious salad. Everything in it sings, from the lemon and garlic flavors to the pungent arugula and herbs. I love the sour cherries, but just about any dried fruit would work.


91 thoughts on “An Ottolenghi Rice Salad

  1. Plenty is the only Ottolenghi cookbook I own, but I’ve only made about 3 dishes from it so far. All 3 were excellent, though. I really have to dig it out and cook more from it, I think.

    I missed out (on purpose) on the same things as you did: kale chips, overnight oats, grilled lemons, and salads in jars. I’m sometimes a couple of years behind a trend, but I don’t think I’ll be regretting missing out on those…

    • No, I don’t think we’re missing out on too much there! I think it’s funny that Europeans have been soaking their oats overnight for centuries, especially in the Northern countries like Scotland and Ireland, but those are real oats, not quick and instant oats like people use typically in the US. I refuse to use those, too!

  2. I had to laugh when I read this and about Ottolenghi’s precision. The Guardian paper over weekend had an ‘Easy Ottolenghi’ supplement. I suggested a duck recipe to my son who was cooking. I ended up apologising: ‘I suppose I should have known there’s no such thing as an easy Ottolenghi.’ Jonathan’s an experienced and great cook too. He cut down on the strong flavourings quite a bit and I’m glad he did … 3 star anise was quite enough rather than the 6 suggested. I cooked and cooked from JERUSALEM when I first got it and still love it and we have favourite recipes we do again and again. I like this salad you’ve done and I haven’t been to Nopi and really should! :)

    • His food is wonderful, and the recipes are best suited, I think, for people who follow recipes to the T. My goodness, I think 1 star anise might have been enough, although Ottolenghi knows his food. Jerusalem is a gorgeous book. I’ve got to get busy! Nopi for lunch was really incredible.

  3. I’m a huge fan of Ottolenghi … he’s spawned a trend for Middle Eastern food on this side of the pond, which suits me just fine as I love it. What do you have against grilled lemons, by the way?! I griddled some limes to eat with spicy prawn skewers recently and they were really good – slightly caramelised on the edges and because the fruit was warm, it released lots of juice when squeezed. Just saying’. :)

  4. I love Ottolenghi, and own four of his books, all of which contain quite an incredible amount of wonderful recipes. I’ve made a lot from each, and even when you don’t have all the ingredients (herbs, spices, etc.), they still turn out delicious, most of the time. I have made this rice salad, and love it, though there are tons of steps to it!
    Funny how trends come and go… There are some that I enjoy, but others are just not really worth paying attention to, in my opinion (like kale chips – as mentioned in one of the comments… hmm, no thanks, I tried some in the US this summer, and did NOT like them)!

    • Well, I’d much prefer fresh spinach to kale in any cases, so kale chips just didn’t temp me. So I’m not on the kale bandwagon on any level! But Ottonghi’s recipes, though potentially complicated, really are incredible! I forgot the nuts in a few of the photos, which really added so much to this salad!

  5. His recipes are wonderful, for some reason I don’t cook enough from this books, but I’m always pleased when I do. Most of my cooking is very simple. I like the flavor of each “protein” to shine through. But it’s fun to try unusual combination of ingredients, and he does that like nobody else!

  6. Great post, Mimi. I am stubborn about trends, too! I own Plenty (it was a gift) and I have made only one or two recipes from it mostly because they seem too complicated with too many ingredients.

    • And it’s funny to hear you say that when you have chef skills! Your last duck recipe had many steps to it! I guess I should respect the precision of the recipes – we know cooking enough to omit this or substitute that. But the restaurant’s food and service and everything was perfect. Maybe if you get to London…

    • Stefan! too complicated with too many ingredients? I am surprised that you would feel that way :) you should check out the Nopi cookbook. I have Plenty too, btw, and feel the same as you do. Jerusalem is good. However, my favourite is the book by Gil Marks – an encylopedia of jewish food – no pictures but very informative!

  7. I love his salads Mimi. I still though, don’t have any of his books. I just get recipes off line if need be. His flavour combinations are so simple, but so brilliant you wonder why you’ve not eaten like this all your life. I also love the way he is Jewish and Sami Palestinian. Just shows they can all get along just fine.

    I tried this recipe recently from Yotam. It was a bit over the top in the end. Really was confusion food. The chicken alone will be mouth watering along side this salad.

    • That’s exactly what I don’t like at restaurants. I want food to be high quality, perfectly cooked and seasoned, and nicely presented. Over the top – dishes that look more like works of art – I think we’ve discussed foam before… that turns me off. I can’t wait to check out this recipe, though! Thanks!

  8. The salad looks delicious! :)

    I had to laugh when I read about your repulsion with trends – as I could see myself in that description. I try to taste and form an opinion, but found kale chips, overnight oats and zoodles to be repulsive and not worth the try… Grilled lemon, on the other hand, is something I grew up with and I do think it tastes different than fresh lemon.

    As for the Ottolenghi phenomena, coming from his native Israel, I can only appreciate how he managed to take the everyday Israeli foods and mixes we all grew up on, and turn them into something this spectacular. I agree he has a tendency to complicate recipes, but I think savvy cooks can get the idea of the recipe and make their shortcuts easily. As for novices, I still think it’s best to give as accurate instructions as possible.

  9. you make me laugh Mimi! I haven’t managed to go to the Ottolenghi restaurants either, but I do have some of the cookbooks, my sister gave me one as a Christmas present once – Jerusalem and it’s great. I did, against better judgement, try pumpkin with tahini and pomegranate and wouldn’t recommend it, some things should just not be done, however, a lot of the other recipes remind me of my time in Israel. I don’t like food fads either – although I will experiment with the best of them I have eaten a lot of Quinoa lately, and frankly, it may be healthy but it’s not much fun is it?

    • Quinoa doesn’t do much for me, and I do think it’s funny that it’s trendy now. I tried to discover all grains and legumes over 25 years ago just because I wanted more than wheat for my family. Plus, my husband was a vegetarian for a long time so I had to be creative. I still play with kamut and teff and amaranth just for fun, as well as for health reasons. But I never liked quinoa, and I still don’t.

      • Kamut haven’t come across that, Teff – yes for Ethiopian breads, but it’s hard to source here and crazy expensive, Amaranth – I did make a nice souffle with that once, it’s a bit less in your face than Quinoa. Kamut – what do you do with that? I must search your site!

      • Oh, kamut isn’t on the blog. It’s actually bigger than wheat or barley. Plus you can get kamut flour as well. They’re just options. I used to use whole amaranth and teff in my granola, because no cooking is required. Great flavor and fiber. I stay away from the “healthy” aspect on my blog, even though for my every day cooking, especially when I was raising my kids, it was all about nourishing food. Now it’s just my husband and myself, and if I make pasta, for example, it’s only whole-grain. But on the blog? It’s processed. I don’t want to force an agenda for eating and lifestyle.

      • Hi Mimi – that makes sense – although if things are tasty and healthful then it’s ok. But I get your point. I’ve always wanted to make my own granola, I will check if you have a recipe, if not go on google, now you have inspired me!

      • Really granola is yummy isn’t it? with all that honey and sweet demerara sugar clumped together in delicious morsels of crunchy goodness? Or am I thinking of a different kind of granola?

  10. Mimi – I found Ottolenghi one night when I couldn’t sleep. I saw a review of “Plenty” on my iPad and knew right away I had to have it. I didn’t know he was a trendy chef – I had never heard of him. So that night – it was about 2:00am, I bought both a hardcover version (for which I would need to wait two excruciating days) and the iBooks version. I read it from beginning to end that night, and made the cover recipe for dinner that day. I have been a devotee ever since and, in fact, and making his roasted chicken with fennel and clementines tomorrow night for dinner.

    • Interesting story! Amazon Prime is so slow!!! I don’t think he’s really “trendy” in that way, it’s just that his kind of food was/is so brilliant that it really took off. Plus I did think it was interesting when I discovered that he wasn’t a vegetarian!

      • That is funny – I still like him a lot. It’s just nice to view foods/ingredients in a different way.

  11. Hey . I have planned on starting a bake off a way to collab with different bloggers on a weekly basis. Would you like to become a part of this collab . It’s a great way to spread word about you blog and to get more readers to read you post.
    If you accept I will send you the details.

  12. This is one beautiful, nutritious salad, Mimi, and one I’d expect from an Ottolenghi cookbook. I, too, have a copy of Jerusalem but haven’t prepared many of the recipes. They’re a bit too involved for a dinner for myself. I’ve prepared those that I did for dinner guests but prefer much simper fare for myself.

  13. Mimi, I admire your resistance and discernment re: “trends.” Stick to your guns, girl! Thanks for sharing this delectable salad. Being a former Minnesota girl ‘n’ all, I’m kinda partial to wild rice. (I also adhere to the more grains, the merrier stance.) Never mind the extra pots and pans to achieve extraordinary flavor. (Just don’t drop in on my kitchen unannounced, lol!) Besides reading your post, I enjoyed the “back & forth” in your comment section — great feedback, great answers.

  14. P.S. Thanks, too, for your recommendation to — just ordered sour cherries for this dish, and a boatload more for future cooking and eating adventures. :) Love it!

  15. Did you do anything to the sour cherries? I bought a pack of Iranian sour cherries last year and couldn’t eat them. Those would’ve needed to be slow cooked.
    Am I really as stubborn as you?! All of yours listed were on my do not try list. And I still haven’t looked at Yotam’s books. Should, shouldn’t I…

    • Hahahahaha! You must be stubborn about popular trends as well! Sometimes it’s good just to relax and give in. It helps to be 60! Regarding the cherries, the ones I purchased were very soft, or I would have warmed them in juice or port or just water.

  16. The wife and I really love this blog and appreciate the creativity and neat recipes you provide. If you decide to take this blog to the next level by offering a Mobile App version my company Zenlight could provide service for an extremely low price, we appreciate the hard work you have put into this blog and wish you all future success in business and in life.
    Thank you for your time, it is the most precious thing we all possess.

Leave a Reply. I love 'em!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.