Light and refreshing, this Mediterranean Rice Bowl is easy to make plus the perfect side dish to any summer dinner or BBQ with friends! Made with rice, tuna, artichokes, olives, sweet corn and fresh herbs then served chilled, it’s both flavorful and a crowd-pleaser!
Cold, refreshing and the perfect side dish for your next BBQ, this Mediterranean rice bowl recipe is a simple salad to make that everyone will love! While you could make it year-round, if the weather is hot, this is my go-to cold dish when I don’t want to turn on the oven.
Rice salad is a popular potluck salad and seems to pop up at any Italian gathering during the summer. While there are so many different variations, many with tomatoes, I love to include sweet corn in mine just like with my tuna corn salad.
It’s simply dressed with fresh herbs, oregano and olive oil and keeps for days making it great for lunches during the week! Other rice dishes we love to make include tomatoes stuffed with rice and this Italian sausage and vegetable rice casserole.
Why You Will Love This Mediterranean Rice Bowl
- Cold salad: This Mediterranean rice bowl is perfect for those days when you don’t want to turn on the oven! It’s served cold so it’s great for any summertime potluck or BBQ.
- Make ahead: This salad needs time to chill making it perfect anytime you need a make ahead salad for work lunches or dinner prep.
- Versatile: Customize this rice bowl how you like! Add more of what you like, use only vegetables, swap the tuna for another protein or include chopped tomatoes.
- Great for entertaining: Whenever there is a gathering in Italy, someone is bound to bring a variation of this rice bowl! They are always yummy and crowd favorites.
Rice Bowl Ingredients
- Dry rice: You will need 1 ¼ cups dry long grain white rice which will yield around 4 ¼ cups rice.
- Tuna: One can of flaky tuna that has been drained.
- Artichokes: One jar of artichokes packed in oil. Your artichokes will need to be drained and sliced before adding to the rice salad bowl.
- Black olives: These add texture, briny taste and will need to be sliced. You could use kalamata olives if preferred.
- Mini sausages: A fun addition to the rice bowls that adds a unique twist! Italians also like to use mini hot dogs which are called wurstel in Italy.
- Sweet corn: Fresh or from a can. 1 small can sweet corn drained and rinse(approximately 2/3 cup or 140 grams
- Fresh herbs: Chopped fresh basil and Italian parsley add herbaceous taste.
- Oregano: Dried oregano adds an earthy taste.
- Salt: To season and taste.
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is used as a simple dressing for this rice salad bowl plus it adds moisture and rich taste.
How to Make a Mediterranean Rice Bowl
To start, first cook the rice. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and then cook rice to al dente which should take around 7-8 minutes. Always taste and test for doneness. Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.
In a large bowl gently mix together tuna, artichokes, olives, sausage, sweet corn, chopped basil and parsley, oregano and salt.
Gently fold in rice and olive oil then refrigerate covered for 2 hours.
Once your rice salad is chilled, serve cold or at room temperature with mayonnaise on the side, if desired.
- Rice: Use your favorite rice such as brown rice, basmati rice or jasmine rice!
- Beans: Add some plain or roasted chickpeas, lentils or your favorite bean to add some additional nutritious fiber and texture.
- Protein: Instead of tuna use shredded chicken breasts or turkey.
- Cheese: Feta cheese would give this bowl recipe additional Mediterranean taste.
- Fresh vegetables: Add some cucumbers, cherry or grape tomatoes, red onions or any other fresh vegetable you would like!
- Roasted vegetables: Roasted cauliflower, red bell pepper or even eggplant would all be delicious additions.
- Cook your rice like pasta: Boil a pot of water, add salt and then toss in the rice and cook it al dente. Drain well and then serve. I use this trick for both this Mediterranean rice bowl and even my lazy cabbage rolls.
- Leftover rice: If you have leftover cold rice, this rice is even easier to put together!
- Mayo on the side: If you love a creamy rice bowl, serve mayonnaise on the side for a tangy flavor.
- Make in advance: To allow for even more flavor development, make this salad up to a day in advance. It will make the dish even more flavorful!
How to Store
Leftovers of the rice bowl can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Stir before enjoying again. If the rice starts to get dry, add a drizzle of olive oil or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten flavors and stir to incorporate.
Can I meal prep this rice bowl in advance?
Yes! This cold rice bowl actually tastes better after it has chilled for a few hours. If you would like to prepare it for on-the-go lunches, divide the prepared Mediterranean rice bowls between 4-6 containers.
Can I add leafy greens to the rice salad?
Yes, but I would wait to do so right before serving. Fresh greens like spinach or arugula would both be great.
Can I make a vegetarian Mediterranean rice bowl?
Sure! The results will be different then the recipe as written, but you can omit the tuna and mini sausage and add beans, lentils or chickpeas in their place.
How to serve this Mediterranean rice salad?
This salad like my Italian fresh vegetable pasta salad is a simple cold salad perfect for all your summertime gatherings from picnics to birthday parties. It would make an excellent BBQ side dish to Parmesan crusted beef burgers or grilled shrimp skewers!
I hope you give this Mediterranean Rice Bowl a try, and that you enjoy it as much as we do. Buon Appetito!
Mediterranean Rice Bowl
- 1¼ cups dry Rice
- 3-4 ounces canned tuna (drained)
- 8 ounces small jar artichokes under oil (drained and sliced) drained and sliced
- 15-20 black olives sliced*
- 4-5 mini Italian salami (sliced or chopped)
- ⅔ cup small can sweet corn (drained)
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and Italian parsley to taste
- ½-¾ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
*Kamalata black olives if available.
- 3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise if desired
- In a large pot of boiling salted water cook rice al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- In a large bowl gently mix together the tuna, artichokes, olives, salami, corn, chopped basil and parsley, oregano and salt.
- Gently fold in rice and olive oil. Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve. Serve mayonnaise on the side. Enjoy!
Updated from June 6, 2016.