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.


By Published On: September 26th, 201691 Comments on An Ottolenghi Rice Salad

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Kiki September 26, 2016 at 7:15 AM - Reply

    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…

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 7:27 AM - Reply

      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. Travel Gourmet September 26, 2016 at 7:18 AM - Reply

    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! :)

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 7:25 AM - Reply

      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. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward September 26, 2016 at 7:22 AM - Reply

    His recipes are great. Your dish is beautiful! I stock up on unsweetened, dried sour cherries when I find them. I don’t know why American manufacturers add sugar to dried fruit!

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 7:23 AM - Reply

      I know, it’s a terrible thing. I get mine from

  4. A Cookbook Collection September 26, 2016 at 7:24 AM - Reply

    Beautiful pictures Mimi! I love Ottolenghi and have a couple of his books. I haven’t come across a bad recipe yet.

  5. francefougere September 26, 2016 at 7:54 AM - Reply

    Beautiful dish, so well prepared – miam ! :)

  6. Linda Duffin September 26, 2016 at 8:17 AM - Reply

    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’. :)

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 9:50 AM - Reply

      Well, we’re they any different than squeezing fresh lemons? They’re pretty, I can say that!

      • Linda Duffin September 26, 2016 at 10:46 AM

        I think the flavour was different but I’d be hard-pressed to describe it. :)

  7. Darya September 26, 2016 at 9:33 AM - Reply

    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)!

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 9:51 AM - Reply

      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!

  8. sallybr September 26, 2016 at 10:14 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 11:02 AM - Reply

      Definitely! The one thing I learned was to toast the nuts in butter. I usually dry roast them, myself. And then added to the salad was just spectacular!

  9. StefanGourmet September 26, 2016 at 10:58 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 11:01 AM - Reply

      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…

    • polianthus September 27, 2016 at 3:18 AM - Reply

      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!

  10. David Crichton September 26, 2016 at 12:01 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 1:18 PM - Reply

      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!

  11. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso September 26, 2016 at 12:19 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 1:16 PM - Reply

      Okay, I promise to grill some lemons! I remember the first time I saw an ancient photograph of tomatoes drying on roofs of Italian houses in a small village! And I’d thought in the 80’s that they had just been discovered!!!

  12. bradthegourmand September 26, 2016 at 12:25 PM - Reply

    Looks delicious!

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 1:14 PM - Reply

      Thanks – it was pretty incredible!

  13. Chica Andaluza September 26, 2016 at 12:51 PM - Reply

    Looks gorgeous! Haven’t tried this one yet but I have several of the books and some of the recipes are less complex than others and lend themselves to a little tweaking 😀

    • chef mimi September 26, 2016 at 1:14 PM - Reply

      That’s good to know! I love tweaking!

  14. Eartha September 26, 2016 at 2:11 PM - Reply

    What a great looking dish! Love the mix of ingredients.

    • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 7:54 AM - Reply

      The recipe worked so well. I’ve never toasted nuts in butter before – talk about incredible! I will do that in the future !

  15. Loretta September 26, 2016 at 2:26 PM - Reply

    Lovely array of ingredients. Ottolenghi has surely taken the world by storm!

    • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 7:53 AM - Reply

      He certainly has! Plus, he has focused on a cuisine that was previously part of “Middle Eastern” cuisine.

  16. Marisa's Italian Kitchen September 26, 2016 at 5:38 PM - Reply

    Mimi this looks and sounds delicious…I must confess I do not own any of his cookbooks! I may just have to remedy that :)

    • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 7:52 AM - Reply

      I wouldn’t know which one to recommend, because I only own three, and it depends maybe if you’re a vegetarian or not. Beautiful food, though.

  17. ladyredspecs September 26, 2016 at 6:10 PM - Reply

    I hate food fads too. The most pointless recently has been coconut flour.I find it dry and characterless. Ottolenghi’s food style is very “modern Australian.”

    • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 7:50 AM - Reply

      That’s good to know, because his food is “vibrant.” And, we’ll be in Australia next year!!!

      • ladyredspecs September 27, 2016 at 4:59 PM

        Where are you planning to visit Mimi? If you need any advice or suggestions for exploring food/wine/eating options I’m happy to help out. Hopefully we can meet

      • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 6:10 PM

        I know, that would be great! It’s. National Geographic trip, and I’m not familiar with the itinerary yet. We get to see New Zealand too!

  18. chefceaser September 27, 2016 at 12:01 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

  19. polianthus September 27, 2016 at 3:16 AM - Reply

    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?

    • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 7:49 AM - Reply

      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.

      • polianthus September 27, 2016 at 8:00 AM

        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!

      • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 8:05 AM

        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.

      • polianthus September 27, 2016 at 8:57 AM

        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!

      • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 9:29 AM

        No, it’s not on there. I think I would lose readers with a granola post!

      • polianthus September 27, 2016 at 9:32 AM

        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?

      • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 9:56 AM

        Yeah. Mine is hippy!

  20. elliebleu September 27, 2016 at 2:50 PM - Reply

    Plenty is a great cookbook. Your salad looks perfect and I have all the ingredients at home. :)

  21. Josette@thebrookcook September 27, 2016 at 4:44 PM - Reply

    I am such an Ottolenghi fan! I’m surprised that you could hold out from trying his recipes for so long. :) Your salad looks AMAZING!

    • chef mimi September 27, 2016 at 6:11 PM - Reply

      Well, I am stubborn! But I’m glad I finally did!

  22. Gerlinde @ Sunnycovechef September 29, 2016 at 12:34 AM - Reply

    I love this post and I don’t like trends either, but my friend made Ottolenghi’s humus and it was fantastic, better than the one I make. I have his Jerusalem book. Your salad looks fabulous.

    • chef mimi September 29, 2016 at 9:03 AM - Reply

      What book is his hummus recipe out of?

      • Gerlinde @ Sunnycovechef September 29, 2016 at 10:42 AM

        She used the recipe from the Jerusalem book with less tahini. The reason Ottolenghi ‘s recipe is smoother than mine is because it uses more water and is mixed for 5 minutes in the food processor.

  23. chezlerevefrancais September 29, 2016 at 5:23 AM - Reply

    I have to admit I’ve never heard of him…..just off to have a look next! The recipe looks like something to do on a wet day when you have lots of time to make it and then enjoy.

    • chef mimi September 29, 2016 at 9:03 AM - Reply

      Definitely. I really love salads with grains and also with legumes. Lightened up with a few goodies and they’re just fabulous meals!

  24. Cocoa & Lavender September 29, 2016 at 8:59 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi September 29, 2016 at 9:02 AM - Reply

      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!

      • Cocoa & Lavender November 6, 2016 at 6:32 PM

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

  25. bitsandbreadcrumbs September 29, 2016 at 2:03 PM - Reply

    I, too, have given his cookbooks but not owned one…until this Saturday when I will get Jerusalem for my birthday! I can hardly wait! This recipe looks amazing.

  26. Sarah 'n Spice September 29, 2016 at 5:25 PM - Reply

    I love Ottolenghi! Great recipe :)

  27. witchspotion October 1, 2016 at 5:11 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi October 1, 2016 at 10:58 AM - Reply

      I’m just not a baker! But thank you!

      • witchspotion October 1, 2016 at 10:59 AM

        Ohh long as it’s food you can be a part of this collaboration.

      • chef mimi October 1, 2016 at 12:19 PM

        Oh! I thought it was for baking. But honestly I’ve got three trips planned in October, so it might be stressful for me to meet the deadlines and participate. Maybe next time? After the holidays?!! Thanks!

      • witchspotion October 1, 2016 at 6:42 PM

        Ya sure maybe next time.

  28. Lesley at Lola Rugula October 1, 2016 at 4:40 PM - Reply

    Wow – this looks and sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to try it!

    • chef mimi October 2, 2016 at 7:06 AM - Reply

      It was a magical mixture of ingredients!

  29. aranislandgirl October 3, 2016 at 7:00 PM - Reply

    Absolute gorgeousness! I adore wild rice, have never had sour cherries though. This sounds amazing, and your pictures–making me drool on the keyboard!!

    • chef mimi October 3, 2016 at 7:01 PM - Reply

      Thank you! I guess the thanks go to Mr. Ottolenghi!

      • aranislandgirl October 3, 2016 at 7:06 PM

        Never heard of him, but adore this creativity. I’ll have to look into his vegetarian cookbooks.

  30. ChgoJohn October 4, 2016 at 8:47 PM - Reply

    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.

  31. Joe Black October 8, 2016 at 5:29 PM - Reply

    I love Ottolenghi’s cook books! I’m yet to visit the restaurant. Your dish looks delishious! 🙌🏻

    • chef mimi October 8, 2016 at 7:10 PM - Reply

      It was a great experience! Do try to go if you can.

  32. Kim Bultman October 14, 2016 at 1:38 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi October 14, 2016 at 5:44 AM - Reply

      Hahahaha! It was fun! And I definitely agree with you.

  33. Kim Bultman October 14, 2016 at 2:24 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi October 14, 2016 at 5:45 AM - Reply

      Oh good! I’ve recommended before – obviously no affiliation, or kickbacks, I just like recommending good online stores.

  34. patrick November 1, 2016 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    Great post, adding this to my recipe box!

  35. callmetrav November 10, 2016 at 6:22 AM - Reply

    This salad looks amazing!

  36. Johnny Hepburn November 13, 2016 at 6:34 PM - Reply

    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…

    • chef mimi November 13, 2016 at 8:21 PM - Reply

      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.

  37. Jacque' November 21, 2016 at 3:11 AM - Reply

    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.

  38. EternalEclipse January 2, 2017 at 1:38 AM - Reply

    This is new to me, but it looks great. Nice post

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