This delicious and easy rice salad is the perfect cold dish for the hot summer days! Made with tasty vegetables, cheese and tuna, this salad is rich and yet refreshing. This dish is an Italian classic and the variation is from Northern Italy.
What kind of recipe is this
The Italian Rice Salad, a.k.a. Insalata di Riso, is a simple dish, perfect for picnic, potlucks and for the moments when you want to have nice food in the fridge to serve without reheating. It is a versatile recipe as you can diversify the ingredients according to your taste. Still, there are few important tips for best rice salad experience which you will find below in the post.
How do I know this recipe
This is a Northern Italian recipe which I learned from my Italian partner. We cook it often at home during the summer. We have made it with different ingredient variations which I will try to summarise below for you.
What ingredients you need
Below you will find a list of the ingredients and possible substitutions. Beware that Insalata di Riso is not a fixed recipe, which means you can change not only the types of ingredients but also their quantities.
- Rice: You need high quality rice. For perfect result use a kind that is parboiled which is hard to get overcooked, is not too sticky and keeps its shape.
- Olive oil: extra virgin is the standard for all Italian recipes.
- Tuna: use the one in oil and remove the oil before adding it to the salad.
- Green peas: one of the most important ingredients. You could also add sweet corn in addition, if you like it.
- Pickled vegetables: carrots, peppers, cauliflower, celery, onions and others. In Italy you can find special canned mixtures “per insalata di riso”. If you know an Italian shop near you, such product could be a good option.
- Green olives
- Cheese, such as Asiago or Gouda
- Hot dog or mortadella: these are optional but very nice when cubed and added to the salad
- Artichokes in oil: optional but adds great texture and taste. You may also add some mushrooms in oil
It is very easy to make this salad and it can’t fail if you use quality ingredients. Make sure they are all chopped finely as it is not as nice to have large chunks inside.
One important moment you need to consider is cooling down the rice. It shouldn’t be very hot when you add the ingredients, especially the cheese. After you drain it, add immediately some olive oil and start mixing. To speed up the cooling process, you may fill the sink with cold water and ice and place there the pot with the rice: just make sure the water doesn’t reach the top of the pot.
This is a very tasty recipe which I hope you will like! Let me know in the comments what you think about it.
Check out also the Pasta Fredda which is another favourite recipe of our family.
Insalata di riso
- 2,5 cups/ 500 g rice preferably parboiled (see notes)
- 1 can / 185 g tuna in oil drained
- 1 cup/ 150 g green peas canned, NOT drained
- 1/2 cup / 100 g sliced green olives
- 2 cups/ 300 g pickled vegetables finely chopped + some of the water (see notes)
- 1/2 cup / 90 g capers drained
- 1 1/2 cup / 200 g yellow cheese cut in small cubes (see notes)
- 1/2 cup / 100 g marinated artichokes finely chopped (see notes)
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 cup/ 150 g mortadella or hot dog finely chopped (optional)
- 1 cup/ 160 g corn drained (optional)
- 2 tbsp vinegar optional
- Cook the rice in hot water with a bit of salt. Drain it and transfer it to a large bowl or pot. Add the olive oil and start mixing until it cools down. It doesn’t need to be completely cold to add most of the ingredients.
- Add all the ingredients and mix very well to distribute them evenly around the rice. Leave the cheese for the end to make sure the rice has cooled down as much as possible.
- Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Parboiled rice is best as it doesn’t get overcooked easily so the consistency of the salad is nice and the rice grains are separated.
- In Italy you can find jars with chopped pickled vegetables specifically made for Insalata di Riso. If you happen to find an Italian shop, you may get one of these. Otherwise use any kind of pickled vegetables, even from separate jars: onions, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, celery. Add also some of the water from the pickles: the rice salad needs liquid, otherwise it will become dry.
- Cheese: use Asiago, Gouda or any other mild cheese.
- Artichokes marinated in oil are not mandatory but very nice to add. You can substitute them by marinated mushrooms.
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