Italian Rice Salad (insalata di Riso)

This italian rice salad is packed with mediterranean flavors and tossed with a simple and very Italian dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and parsley. Serve it as a side-dish in your cookouts or as a quick and light lunch for any weekday meal.

Italian rice salad on a platter.

Insalata di riso will become one of your favorites once you learn that making it is so simple and easy that no wonder why is an italian summer favourite.

There’s no summer here in Italy where this fresh dish won’t make its appearance. This is one of those dishes italians made with ingredients that are available in the pantry or refrigerator. It requieres little preparation and can be made ahead of time.

A close up to italian rice salad.

What rice to use

Parboiled is always our first choice for making Italian rice salad. Because it can cooks faster and keep the texture nice and firm. Don’t pay much attention to the name, Parboiled doesn’t mean it’s extra cooked. Sometimes we use also Ribe, Jazmin or Arborio and, if we feel more adventurous  we will use something more healthy like red or wild rice.

Cooked parboiled rice mixed with olive oil.

 The common ingredients

  • Canned veggies. Pickled and/or packed in oil vegetables are a must, you can add any type you like such as zucchini, aubergines, bell peppers, dried tomatoes, capers, olives, baby onions, artichokes, pickles, mushrooms, sweet corn, etc. Here in Italy is pretty common to use a mix of canned vegetables called condiriso/fariciriso (condiments for rice), is just a mix of pickled veggies that includes most of the suggested above. Check out if you can find something similar at your nearest supermarket or just add a mix of your favorite brand of canned vegetables.
A jar of vegetables diced and packed in oil and vinegar (condiviso).
  • Fresh vegetables. You can use cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, arugula, bell peppers, onions, etc.
  • Cheese. Mozzarella is always the first choice. You can add it cut into cubes or use mozzarelline (little mozzarella morsels, perfect to use on salads). But also Pecorino, Fontina or Emmentaler are common choices.
  • Salumi (cold cuts). Ham, salami, speck, mortadella, bresaola.
  • Other proteins. Traditionally, insalata di riso is made with canned tuna, but also cubes of breast chicken salted in olive oil are a good addition if you don’t like tuna.
  • Extras: Boiled eggs cut into wedges or cubbed and mayonnaise are some extras that you’ll find often in the traditional Italian rice salad.
Cold rice salad ingredients on a glass bowl.

Tips & Tricks

  • Start by choosing the right type of rice for salads and then cook it al dente, meaning until the grains are tender but still firm.
  • Give the rice a quick rinse under cold water afterward, just to get rid of any starch that remains. Just as you do with pasta when makings this macaroni pasta salad. Then place it on a strainer to get rid of the excess of liquid.
  • To avoid rice grains to stick to each other, season it with a little bit of oil while you finish preparing the rest of ingredients.
  • To enhance the flavors, give some time to this Italian rice salad to rest.
  • Eat the salad at room temperature. So if you have it in the fridge, remove it at least half an hour before consuming and then serve.
  • Balance the flavors. Taste as you adding the ingredients and adjust to your taste by adding a little bit more of this or that. Is all about balance.

Hungry for more?

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
This zesty Italian pasta salad is loaded with fresh Mediterranean ingredients and drizzled with an amazing dressing made with olive oil, vinegar & lemon. 
Check out this recipe
Zesty italian pasta salad on a large bowl.
Cold Italian Rice Salad.

Italian Rice Salad (insalata di riso)

This italian rice salad is packed with mediterranean flavors and tossed with a simple dressing with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, basil and parsley. Serve it as a side-dish for any grilled protein or as a quick and light lunch in weekday meal.
PREP 10 minutes
COOK 18 minutes
TOTAL 58 minutes
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cup (320 g) parboiled rice, uncooked (or any rice for salad)
  • 5 oz (140 g) canned tuna
  • 7 oz (200 g) mozzarelline (or diced mozzarella)
  • 1 cup (100 g) mortadella, diced (or ham)
  • 3 medium hard-boiled eggs (cut into wedges)
  • 1 ½ cup (200 g) cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 can pickled/oil diced vegetables (about 7 oz)
  • ¼ cup (40 g) packed in oil sundried tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • ½ cup (100 g) packed in oil artichokes (roughly chopped)

condiments

  • wine vinegar (to taste)
  • extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • parsley (chopped)
  • fresh basil (chopped)
  • salt (to taste)

Instructions

  • In a large sized sauce pan add rice, 1 tablespoon of salt and cover with water by at least 2 inches.
  • Bring to a boil. Add salt and lower to a simmer. Cook until al dente.
  • Place rice on a strainer and give it a quick rinse under cold water to get rid of any starch that remains. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  • Add rice to a large mixing bowl and pour over 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well and let the rice to cool down.
  • Add to the bowl the can of vegetables, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, dried tomatoes, artichokes, mortadella, eggs and tuna. Mix well.
  • Add parsley and basil, then season with salt, extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. You really need to add as much seasonings as you want but I suggest to keep the flavors balanced.
  • Let the salad rest for half an hour before serving.

notes

  • Start by choosing the right type of rice for salads and then cook it al dente, meaning until the grains are tender but still firm.
  • Give the rice a quick rinse under cold water afterward, just to get rid of any starch that remains. Just as you do with pasta when makings this macaroni pasta salad. Then place it on a strainer to get rid of the excess of liquid.
  • To avoid rice grains to stick to each other, season it with a little bit of oil while you finish preparing the rest of ingredients.
  • To enhance the flavors, give some time to this Italian rice salad to rest.
  • Eat the salad at room temperature. So if you have it in the fridge, remove it at least half an hour before consuming and then serve.
  • Balance the flavors. Taste as you adding the ingredients and adjust to your taste by adding a little bit more of this or that. Is all about balance.
Nutrition
Calories: 480kcal
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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love all-things italian and food is my number one hehe. Just find you in Pinterest and I am so glad I did, you have a gorgeous blog!

  2. 5 stars
    Best rice I ever had, not really a fan of rice, more of a pasta person, so I decided to try something new! This recipe is a 5/5 for me, something healthy, new and the mix of textures is great, love it!

  3. 5 stars
    5/5 really so good and so simple to make. Next time I’ll add a bit of pesto. I’m sure it will be a nice addition.

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