My memories of summers in Italy as a child are filled with the whitewashed buildings of Sperlonga, running around (ie. getting into trouble) with cousins, tanning on the beach, cobblestone vicoli, and insalata di riso. Yes, insalata di riso!
Insalata di riso is an Italian rice salad that is a staple in Italy (or at least the Lazio region) for the summer. If we spent a whole day at the beach, someone would make insalata di riso to bring. That’s where I remember eating it the most. Sitting under our ombrellone when it was time to have lunch and having this refreshing rice salad, along with some panini, and fresh fruit. And it seems like everyone else at the beach was doing the same thing – eating their insalata di riso.
The flavors of the mixed vegetables, ham and tuna seem like a strange combination, but they actually pair perfectly together to make a delicious salad.
I hadn’t had insalata di riso in awhile, so when my friend hosted a barbecue a few weeks ago, I decided to make this classic Italian dish to bring along! So while we may not have been eating it on the beach in Sperlonga (I wish!), it made for a perfect accompaniment to our burgers 🙂 And it’s really one of the easiest things to make! It took me no time at all.
Next time you’re looking for a quick dinner, or a side dish to bring to a friend’s house this summer, why don’t you give this insalata di riso a try? I think you’ll be glad you did!
Insalata di Riso - Italian Rice Salad
This Italian Rice Salad is a staple in Italy. Eaten cold, it's a refreshing dish, especially come summer time. The flavors of the mixed vegetables, tuna and ham are an unexpected combination but work beautifully together.
- 3 cups Arborio rice
- 1 bouillon cube
- 3 cups GustoRiso, drained (Italian mixed vegetables in a jar specifically for rice salad) *see recipe notes
- 1 cup cubed ham
- 3/4 cup Italian tuna in olive oil, drained
- 1 cup pitted black olives, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise *see recipe notes
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, add about 3L of water and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil. Add the rice and let it cook until tender, about 20-25 mins. Drain the rice from the water and rinse with cold water. Since this is a rice salad, you want to work with cold rice.
Place cold rice in a large bowl. To the rice, add GustoRiso mixed vegetables (drained), tuna, ham, and olives. Mix in well with the rice. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Add olive oil and mix again.
Place bowl in fridge and let the rice salad sit for at least one hour, can even be up to overnight.
When about ready to serve the salad, add mayonnaise and mix well. Serve and enjoy!
*For the mixed vegetables in the rice salad, I used GustoRiso, which is a mix made especially for Italian rice salad. You should be able to find it in an Italian grocery store in your city. If you can't find it, you can make your own mix by chopping up some carrots, celery, green olives, red pepper, tomatoes, then add corn and capers to it.
*The mayonnaise amount is an approximation. Some people like more mayo, some like less in their rice salad. Start with adding just one cup of mayonnaise, then see if you would like to add more.
*You may notice that I added extra black olives to the rice salad. This is because I really like olives!