Pesto rice salad with tuna

Pesto rice salad is a summer mediterranean dish perfect to make ahead and enjoy in one of those lazy summer days. Made with rice coated with pesto, canned tuna, cherry tomatoes and sweet corn, this salad is a perfect weeknight light meal.

Tuna and pesto rice salad close-up.

Italians love rice salads. They prepare them in so many ways, from the traditional insalata di riso to some vegan options with grilled vegetables. Truth is, there are so many ways of making rice salad, and the one I am sharing with you is only one of them.

Summer is the perfect time to eat rice salads. The vegetables in season make this dish amazingly rich in mediterranean flavors. Also, this salad is perfect to bring to any gatherings or picnics because is always served at room temperature. And the vinegar really helps to prevent the raw veggies, specially tomatoes, from going bad.

Pesto rice salad on a bowl with some ingredients scattered around.

How to store pesto rice salad

Put the salad in an airtight container and place it in the fridge, preferably in the coldest spot (normally at top). This salad can be made two or three days in advance. I do not recommend freezing this dish as rice won’t thaw well.

Tips for this pesto rice salad

  • The most common rice to make this kind of salads here in Italy are Parboiled or Arborio, but also Jasmine or Basmati are a good option.
  • Al dente means you rice grains needs to be tender outside but a little bit hard in the center. So when you let sit the rice to cool it will finish its cooking process.
  • Use another kind of pesto to make this salad. For example, tomato pesto, or zucchini pesto. Either way is delicious and you won’t need heavy or creamy dressings to flavor this salad.

More summer recipes

Tuna and pesto rice salad close-up.

Pesto rice salad with tuna

Pesto rice salad with tuna is a summer mediterranean made with rice coated with pesto, canned tuna, cherry tomatoes and sweet corn, this salad is the perfect and easy weeknight meal.
prep 10 minutes
cook 18 minutes
total 28 minutes


  • 200 gr (200 g) rice for salads (read notes)
  • 5 oz (140 g) canned tuna (1 can, drained)
  • 1 cup (120 g) pesto
  • 1 ½ cup (200 g) cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 ¼ cup (200 g) sweet corn (1 can, drained)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (as needed)
  • Vinegar (as needed)
  • Basil leaves (as needed)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)


  • Cook the rice al dente according to the package instructions.
  • Place the rice onto a large bowl, add the pesto, salt, pepper and mix to coat evenly. Let it cool completly.
  • Discard the oil in the canned tuna and add the meat to the bowl.
  • Add cherry tomatoes and corn.
  • Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, some vinegar (add first 1 spoon, then adjust to taste).
  • Tear basil with your fingers and add to the salad. Mix everything for one minute, adjust salt and serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1grams | Calories: 380kcal
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Pesto Rice Salad with Tuna is our go-to picnic dish! Since it’s quick and easy to do, it saves us time when preparing for our picnic. I made one for our picnic yesterday and they all loved it!