Let’s Cook Italian: Insalata di Riso

Rice salad, or insalata di riso, is one of those classic Italian summer dishes that varies greatly from cook too cook. This recipe is especially rich to give an idea of what can go into it. Feel free to tone it down or substitute other things to your taste. To serve 4 you will need:

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) parboiled rice (the grains should not stick)
  • Either: An 8-ounce (200 g) can tuna, drained and shredded, and four canned sardines, boned and shredded
  • Or: 1 hot dog, cooked and sliced, and a 1/4 pound (100 g) slab of ham, diced
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) Fontina or Swiss cheese, diced
  • 1/4 cup pitted, sliced black olives
  • 1 pickled bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ripe, peeled, seeded tomatoes, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms in oil, diced (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cooked peas (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pickled button onions (optional)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced or quartered (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon rinsed salted or pickled capers (optional)
  • 2 pickled artichoke hearts, sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or mayonnaise
  • A tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the rice in abundant boiling, slightly salted water. Rinse it with cold water and let it drain. Meanwhile, assemble the remaining ingredients. Once the rice has cooled, combine everything in a bowl and chill the salad in the refrigerator.Serves 4-6 (this could be a gross overestimate).A quick note from John Whiting:
When I’m cooking rice for this sort of purpose, I often start it in olive oil for a few minutes as though I were making risotto, then add a slightly generous amount of boiling water and keep checking the rice until it’s al dente, then drain. With the initial cooking in oil the grains never stick and the salad requires a bit less oil to make it taste as though it has quite enough.

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