Southwestern Rice Salad

By Ann Fulton

Jump to recipe
This crowd-pleasing dish covers all the bases! It can be assembled in advance, travels well, and caters to a variety of eating styles. 

This crowd-pleasing dish can be assembled in advance, travels well, and caters to a variety of eating styles. Ideal for backyard barbecues, potlucks, and stress-free family meals!

 

You know all those times you’re searching for something a little different than the usual pasta or vegetable-based salad while maintaining broad appeal? 

For me, this tried-and-true salad often comes to mind. (Would you believe I’ve been making it for nearly 20 years?)

For an even longer list of reasons, this crowd-pleasing dish is exceptionally handy to have in your culinary box of treasures:

  • The colorful salad mixes up quickly with ingredients easily kept on hand. 
  • As an added convenience, the recipe can be fully prepared in advance, making it perfect for a potluck, backyard barbecue, or otherwise busy day.
  • The family-friendly salad travels well, too, so it’s well suited to take to a new parent or sick friend. 
  • What’s more, the hearty dish provides an excellent option when cooking for a variety of eating styles and dietary restrictions: it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian, and vegan with the use of vegan mayo.
  • I find recipes like this to be especially helpful when I’m cooking for a larger group and don’t know what all the limitations may be. 

Of course, all these attributes don’t mean much if the recipe doesn’t taste great. 

It does!

This crowd-pleasing dish covers all the bases! It can be assembled in advance, travels well, and caters to a variety of eating styles. 

I should also mention that the recipe doubles easily, too.  

And it’s ripe for tweaking: a chopped avocado offers a delightful addition, as does a handful of halved grape or cherry tomatoes.

You could add a crunchy element by topping with some crumbled tortilla chips.

Enjoy a little heat? Use a hot salsa in the dressing or toss in some minced jalapeño. 

This crowd-pleasing dish covers all the bases! It can be assembled in advance, travels well, and caters to a variety of eating styles. 

What will this salad complement?

Versatile as it is, you can enjoy the rice-based salad with hamburgers and hot dogs, pulled pork, chicken, shrimp, or steak. (I linked a few “oldies but goodies” if you need some inspiration!)

The black beans provide a dose of filling protein, so you could also serve it atop a bed of colorful greens for a hearty, plant-based meal. In this case, you may wish to double the dressing to have extra to drizzle over the greens.

Leftovers taste great, too. But because cooked rice continues to absorb moisture over time, I often refresh any leftovers with an extra spoonful of salsa and mayo. This can absolutely be eye-balled. Alternatively, a light squeeze of lime will similarly brighten any leftovers.

If you enjoy a more liberally-dressed salad, you could double the recipe to begin with. Any unused portion will serve you well in future salads (both green and grain-based), as a spread for sandwiches and burgers, or as a handy sauce for chicken, shrimp, or white fish. 

This crowd-pleasing dish covers all the bases! It can be assembled in advance, travels well, and caters to a variety of eating styles. 

I’ve been making this Tex-Mex-inspired dish since my older son was about 2-years-old (he just graduated from college!), and it consistently receives glowing reviews. Clearly, I am past due in sharing it here! 

If you make it, I’d love for you to comment below. Pictures on Facebook and Instagram are always welcome, too! 

Southwestern Rice Salad
Yield: 1+ quart (about 8 servings)
This crowd-pleasing dish covers all the bases! It can be assembled in advance, travels well, and caters to a variety of eating styles.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked long grain white rice (from ⅔ cup uncooked; could substitute brown rice)
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 cup corn (fresh cooked, frozen, or canned)
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • ½ cup chopped green onions (could substitute ¼ cup chopped red onion)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more/less to taste; use parsley or omit if not a fan)
  • ⅓ cup (80g) salsa
  • ¼ cup (52g) mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional for serving: chopped or sliced avocado, sliced jalapeños, crumbled tortilla chips
Instructions

Toss the rice, beans, and corn in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, excluding the optional toppings, and toss to incorporate.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to eat, garnishing with optional toppings, as desired.

Notes & Tips

If using frozen corn and you don’t have time to thaw it, there are two good options. First, you can stir it into the hot rice. Or if you cooked the rice earlier, add the corn on top of the black beans when rinsing in the colander. The kernels will quickly thaw when the water is run over top. Drain well before adding to the rice.

A chopped avocado may also be stirred into the rice salad. If you expect leftovers, however, you may wish to use it as a topping, as the avocado will brown over time.

If expecting leftovers, you may wish to make 1½ to 2 times the salsa-mayo-cumin mixture. That way, you can hold some aside to add to the leftovers if they seem dry, as rice absorbs a lot of moisture over time. Alternatively, you can simply stir in an extra spoonful of salsa and mayo (plus a pinch of cumin) to leftovers if needed. If you end up with extra dressing, it’s delicious as a condiment for sandwiches, burgers, roasted or baked potatoes, even simply baked chicken.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Does your rice sometimes turn out gummy or otherwise less than ideal? You may enjoy this simple, foolproof method for Perfectly Cooked Rice. An adjustment for brown rice is provided, and though I typically make Southwestern Rice Salad with white rice, brown may absolutely be used instead. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *