When it comes to classic Italian summer dishes, I immediately think of rice salad, or insalata di riso. The ingredients for the Italian rice salad recipe may vary according to the cook’s taste and preferences; however, one ingredient which should never been changed is the rice, which must have the right size of grains and the requested consistency for salads and it must remain firm, without sticking, once cooked.
In Italy, the rice used for salads is normally of the Superfino quality, like Carnaroli Rice, characterized by grains with a bigger and longer size and a slightly longer cooking time. Carnaroli rice can be found in many grocery stores also outside Italy, but a good quality parboiled rice (partially pre-boiled, to make it less sticky) will give you excellent results as well.
As I mentioned before, virtually any type of ingredients can be added to a rice salad, based on what is available in the pantry or your personal taste; from ham to cheese, tuna, sliced franks, peas, tomatoes, even pickles, olives and capers, use them all; just make sure to cut and dice everything very small, so the ingredients blend nicely with the rice creating a colorful mix. Here is my suggestion:
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4):
- 12 ounces/335 grams of parboiled rice
- 2 ½ ounces/70 grams of ham, in one thick slice
- 2 ½ ounces/70 grams of cooked peas
- 2 ½ ounces/70 grams of fontina cheese, in one thick slice
- 4 ounces/100 grams of tuna in olive oil
- 2 ripe Roma tomatoes
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 hot dog, cooked
- 1 boiled egg
- 10 pitted black olives
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil or mayonnaise
- ¼ cup of salted capers, not in vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the rice in salted water, drain it al dente and let it cool almost completely.
- Drain the tuna and using a fork crumble it finely. Dice the ham in about 1/2 inch (1 cm), do the same with the fontina cheese and the hot dog. Slice finely the hardboiled egg.
- Rinse the capers and the olives, cut the olives into thin slices.
- Wash the celery and slice it finely. Wash, seed and dice the tomatoes, same size as the other ingredients.
- Put the rice in a large bowl, add tuna, ham, fontina cheese, hot dog, peas, olives and capers and celery. Season with the extra-virgin olive oil or the mayonnaise and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the rice on a serving dish, garnish with the sliced hardboiled egg and cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
For a party, an original presentation for rice salad is to serve it in glasses, topped with a cherry tomato or parsley leaves.
Wine suggestion: differentwhite wines can be served with this rice salad, from Soave to Pinot Grigio, from Verdicchio to Sauvignon Blanc.
Cinzia Aversa, 2013