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This italian rice salad -aka: insalata di riso, will become one of your favourites 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.
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What rice do we use in insalata di riso?
Parboiled is always our first choice. 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 or something. Sometimes we use also Ribe, Jazmin or Arborio and we feel more adventurous we will use something more healthy like red or wild rice.
Our italian rice salad as it is
Canned veggies. Pickled veggies and/or in oil vegetables are a must, you can add any type you like such as zucchini, aubergines, bell peppers, dry tomatoes, capers, olives, baby onions, artichokes, pickles, mushrooms, sweet corn, etc.
Fresh vegetables. Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, arugula, bell peppers, etc.
1 type of cheese. Cubbed bites of mozzarella, Pecorino, Fontina or Emmentaler are our common choices.
1 type of salumi (cold cuts). Ham, salami, speck, mortadella, bresaola.
1 type of fish or meat. Traditionally insalata di riso is made with canned tuna. Also cubes of breast chicken salted in olive oil are a good addition if you don’t like fish.
Extras: Boiled eggs and/or mayonnaise.
Simple tips to make a rockstar italian rice salad:
- Cook rice al dente, meaning until the grains are tender but still firm. Check the ends of the grains. You need to stop cooking before they open out.
- 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 making pasta salad. Then pat it dry with a kitchen or paper towel.
- 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.
- Give it some time to rest so the rice salad with get all favours enhanced.
- Eat the salad at room temperature. So if you have it in the fridge, take it off at least half an hour before consuming and then serve.
- Balance the flavours. 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.
Our recommendations for making this recipe:
Italian rice salad (insalata di riso)
- 320 gr parboiled rice /or any kind you like
- 200 gr canned tuna
- 250 gr fresh mozzarella /cubed
- 3 hard-boiled eggs /cut in wedges
- 150 gr cherry tomatoes /halved
- 1 large can pickled vegetables (artichokes, baby onions, capers, pickles, etc) /cut in small bites
- 150 gr black olives
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- Basil leaves
- extra virgin olive oil
- In a large sized sauce pan add rice, 1 tablespoon of salt and cover with water by at least 5cm. Bring to a boil. Add salt and lower to a simmer. Cook until al dente.
- Put rice on a colander and give the rice a quick rinse under cold water afterward to get rid of any starch that remains. Then pat it dry with a kitchen or paper towel.
- Add rice to a mixing bowl and pour over 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well and let the rice to cool down.
- Add to the bowl the vegetables, olives, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and tunna. Mix througly.
- Season with salt, extravirgin olive oil, vinegar and basil leaves. Mix until combined and let it rest for half an hour before serving.