Low Calorie Main Dish Salads Vegetarian

Warm Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese

June 16, 2014

This Warm Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese may sound a bit unusual, but it’s fantastic. I really wanted to make it with Rainier cherries, but I don’t think they’re quite in season yet. You could make this with any kind of cherry, but I opted for dried cherries. I can’t wait to make this again with fresh Rainiers! I made this salad twice, tweaking the recipe just a bit each time. Just small changes made it a different salad, but I loved both versions. Using a precooked pouch of brown rice makes this a cinch to get on the table. Perfect for when you’re busy and don’t want to fire up the stove, but want something homemade.

Warm Brown Rice Chickpea Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese

So, how’s it taste?

The first time I made this, I skipped the precooked brown rice in a pouch and made my own. I somehow ended up with tons of bags of brown rice in my pantry and wanted to use it up. Brown rice takes what feels like forever to cook! So it wasn’t as quick of a meal to put together, though it did give me time to prep the other ingredients. It turned out really well except that I didn’t let my rice cool enough and the goat cheese melted. It made my dish look a pale white color, which wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t care because it tasted amazing. I loved the different textures and flavors. Sweet from the dried cherries, tangy from the vinegar and goat cheese. Fantastic! Another tweak I made was to reduce the amount of olive oil to one tablespoon. Three just seemed like way too much to me and I was right. That also cut out a fair amount of calories, which makes me happy!

The second time I made this, I used the pouch. I couldn’t find brown rice, so I grabbed brown rice and quinoa. I didn’t notice until I got home that it was garlic flavored. I forged on and it turned out pretty well. The garlic was a bit much, but not bad. I also skipped the step of soaking and chopping the dried cherries and just threw them in. Cranberries would work here, too. I left out the oil completely in this batch. It tasted great, but the tang of the vinegar was amped up. I liked it, but you may want to add the oil in last, a little at a time to see how much you’d prefer. The next day it was a bit dry without any oil. The leftovers are outstanding otherwise. Can’t wait to make it with fresh cherries!

Blog Update

I reorganized So, How’s It Taste a bit recently. The old So, How’s It Going and So, How’s It Look sections weren’t working out the way I’d hoped, so those categories (and tabs at the top of site) are gone. Instead you’ll find a new sections in my main navigation. Here’s where I’ll be posting on non food-related topics like fitness, DIY, Stitch Fix reviews, my cute dog Sydney, and Life in general. I’ll be adding more sections later such as blogging tips, photography, and travel. I hope this makes it easier for you to navigate around the blog.

In the process of reorganizing, I accidentally deleted the groups for my emails. Argh! So everyone was placed in the “send only food posts” category. If you’d like to receive emails when a new post is published from any category, simply return to the signup form and enter the email address you used to sign up. You’ll get instructions for updating your email preference. Select the option “Send me all posts! (includes non food-related posts)” and you’ll be set!

Yield: 4 servings

Warm Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese


1 (8.8 oz.) pouch precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's) (or 1 cup uncooked brown rice cooked according to package directions)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (I would add 1 tbsp. at time until it's to your liking)
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
32 cherries, pitted and quartered*
1 (15 oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

*If you can't find fresh cherries, add 2 tablespoons boiling water to 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cherries (or cranberries). Let stand 10 minutes; drain and chop.


1. Heat rice according to package directions. Place rice in a medium bowl. Stir in onions and next 7 ingredients (through chickpeas). Sprinkle evenly with goat cheese.

per serving: 359 calories, 16.8g fat, 10g protein, 43g carbs, 5g fiber

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  • Sues June 16, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I’m so excited for cherry season! I love using them to add a little sweetness to an otherwise savory salad 🙂

    • Leah Short June 16, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Cannot wait for those Rainiers! They are like candy!

  • Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice June 16, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I love the combination of flavors in the dish! Chick peas are one of my favorite ingredients to add to salads, and this sounds like it would go perfectly with cherries!

    • Leah Short June 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Hi Gayle! Me, too. I’ve been making quite a lot of recipes with chickpeas lately. Making a new one later this week. Love ’em!

  • Lesley Eats June 16, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Ooh, this looks delicious! Reminds me of a favorite Jeni’s ice cream, but much less fattening. 🙂

    • Leah Short June 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

      YAIS! Why didn’t I make that connection? Love that flavor!

  • Wendy B June 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Looks delicious and pretty! How would this be cold?

    • Leah Short June 16, 2014 at 10:53 am

      Thanks, Wendy! It’s ok cold, but much better warm. The rice is kind of hard cold, so it needs warming up a bit I think.

  • Natalie @ Tastes Lovely June 16, 2014 at 11:05 am

    This salad sounds delicious! I’m loving the pairing of goat cheese and cherries! This would be such a great salad to bring to a picnic. Yummy!

  • cheri June 16, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Love this combination, dried cherries have so much flavor. Great salad!

  • Annie @Maebells June 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Oh yum!! I bought a package of goat cheese on a whim but couldn’t decide what to do with it. This looks amazing! I love that you added cherries, I think they are an under used ingredient in salads!

    • Leah Short June 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      They definitely are! I always forget about them. Need to change that!

  • alexandra June 16, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Oh man. Wish I had those roadside cherries we picked up in Oregon the other week on our vacation. Those Raniers would be PERFECT in this salad! Love it. And of course, chickpeas. Saving to make for lunch, and SOON!

  • Katie June 17, 2014 at 5:24 am

    I love chickpeas! And the fresh basil and goat cheese makes this a really good summer side dish. Looks so yummy!

  • Olivia - Primavera Kitchen June 17, 2014 at 9:45 am

    This salad sounds super tasty. I love the combination of goat cheese and dried cherries. It is a really great combo for summer!

  • Cailee @ http://hellohealthyeating.com June 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Oh yum!! So healthy, fresh and delicious!! 🙂 Talk about a great meal!!

  • Amira June 17, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    This looks so lovely cherries and chickpeas are fav. in my home.

  • Isadora @ she likes food June 17, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Yum! This does sound like a fantastic salad! Some of my favorite salads have a bunch of random ingredients throw together, but they end up being so good! I love all the ingredients and I bet they taste amazing together! Goat cheese and cherries sound like they would be so good together. I really need to make this soon 🙂

    • Leah Short June 17, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Exactly! The more random, the better. 🙂

  • Kathi @ Deliciously Yum! June 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

    What a beautiful summer salad – I am loving the goat cheese and cherry combo… actually I am digging all the ingredients you used to make this fab salad :). I bet it tastes even better than it looks!

  • Layla @ Brunch Time Baker June 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    This is my kind of summer salad. Light, fresh and packed with an of colors and flavors.

  • Jocelyn@Brucrewlife June 25, 2014 at 2:03 am

    This healthy dish sounds so tasty!! Yum!