Recipe: Insalata di Riso (Italian Rice Salad)

Written by Katie Parla on July 10, 2023

Insalata di Riso | Rice Salad | Katie Parla | Roman Cuisine

You might think summer officially begins on the June 21 solstice, or when the mercury climbs above 30C. In Rome, the appearance of insalata di riso (rice salad) on the menu of bars, cafeterias, and takeaway joints signals the start of the season. By that account, we are deep into Roman summer. This mixture of cold rice with a proprietary blend of flavorings started popping up in early June this year and I have been enjoying this summer delight in all its glorious incarnations. No two insalate are the same, but they do generally draw from the following ingredients: pickled vegetables, canned tuna in oil, cubes of Swiss cheese, canned corn, würstel coins (aka hot dog rounds), and hard boiled eggs.

The version I make at Casa Parla varies, too, depending on what I have in my pantry, but what follows is the base recipe for your seasonal salad enjoyment. I know the exclusion of würstel is straight up blasphemy and I’m sorry for that. It’s just not my vibe and I hope you can forgive this disrespect in the face of tradition. You, too, can modify the recipe. You could add a cup of diced zucchini, or swap tinned sardines for tuna. I have been known to add mortadella cubes and peas for color and texture. However you decided to personalize the recipe, I hope you are able to enjoy it on a beach this summer, eaten from a Tupperware container with a side of ice cold beer.

Active: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Servings: 6

2 cups short-grained rice (I like Arborio)

Sea salt

10 ounces Emmental (or mozzarella if you’re fancy), cut into ½ inch cubes

1 cup giardiniera (mixed pickled vegetables), roughly chopped

½ cup canned corn, rinsed

1 pint (about 1 ½ cups) cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 ounce (about 3 tablespoons) capers

 8 ounces (two 5-ounce cans, drained) high quality oil-packed tuna

6 ounces artichoke hearts, sliced

4 ounces pitted Gaeta olives 

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and halved

Basil leaves, for garnish

Rinse the rice under running cold water, then add to boiling salted water and simmer, covered, over medium heat until al dente. Drain the rice in a colander.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, Emmental, giardiniera, canned corn, cherry tomatoes, capers, tuna, artichoke hearts, olives, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with hard-boiled eggs and basil. 

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