What’s cooking today: Calamari & rice salad

What’s cooking today: Calamari & rice salad
Tony Jackman’s rice and calamari salad, using leftovers and fridge ingredients. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Times are tight and I was eyeing the remains of the dinner after our guests had left. That’s a lot of rice, I thought. Reheating rice can cause health issues, but you can make a salad of cold rice. And there was calamari left over too, and some harissa paste, so…

TikTokkers were in a tizz recently about the dangers of reheating cooked rice, because raw rice contains bacteria that can even survive intense heat. It is, however, safe to eat cold rice as long as it has been refrigerated immediately rather than being left out overnight and only then refrigerated.

In the Seventies and Eighties, rice salads were a part of any buffet worth its salt and pepper, though they have fallen out of fashion in recent decades.

I don’t know about you, but I always cook too much rice. Every time. And when I do that, I refrigerate the leftovers to make a salad for supper the next evening or to turn into a salad side-dish.

Some rice salads are merely an accompaniment to a main event, but sometimes the rice salad can be the main ingredient on the plate. The meal the previous evening had included calamari strips, which I’d cut from “steaks” that I had scored and then cooked until tender (in a recipe that I will be sharing with you next week and which involves a beautiful copper utensil called a cataplana. But more about that later.)

This, then, is one of those salads that you can adapt according to what you find in your fridge. I found capers, pink pickled ginger (from the Asian shelves of supermarkets), green olives, pickled agave buds from Graaff-Reinet, baby rosa tomatoes, and a jar of harissa paste. Not every amalgam of this and that will work together in a dish, but I had a hunch that this lineup would, and they surely did.

This salad was utterly delicious. One ingredient that I would have added, had there been some in the fridge, would have been two or three little anchovies, chopped finely. But the dish as I made it was deeply satisfying, just delicious.

And it did not cost me one cent that had not already been spent.

(Serves 2 as a meal)


8 to 10 leftover calamari strips, sliced thinly

3 cups leftover rice, at room temperature or chilled

8 baby rosa tomatoes, halved or quartered

5 or 6 capers, chopped

5 or 6 green olives, deseeded and cut into tiny pieces

4 pickled agave buds, sliced

2 Tbsp pink pickled ginger, chopped

3 heaped Tbsp harissa paste

2 Tbsp Rozendal fynbos botanical vinegar (or balsamic)

Olive oil, fairly generously

Zest of 1 lemon


White pepper


The night before, when the guests have gone and you’re clearing the kitchen, get the leftovers into separate bakkies and safely into the fridge. Remove from the fridge when you’re ready to prepare a cold supper the next evening. Have a look to see what you have in your fridge, and adapt the recipe accordingly. Don’t feel it incumbent on yourself to use precisely what I used; maybe you have pickled onions, gherkins and the like. They will do fine.

In a large bowl, mix together the rice and all the other ingredients up to and including the harissa paste, tossing with wooden spoons until everything is spread evenly through the salad.

Drizzle over a fair amount of olive oil and the botanical vinegar (it’s a fabulous product), scatter the lemon zest over and season with salt and white pepper. Toss lightly again and serve. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed on a plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.


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