Insalata di riso is an inexpensive summer comfort food that is a quintessential meal in every Italian household. It’s light and flavourful, yet filling and so simple to make. With its bold flavours and simple preparation, it typifies classic, rustic Italian fare in every single bite. It can be served as a hearty main dish for a luncheon, or packed up for a picnic at the park or beach. You can enjoy this at any time of the day (except for breakfast, maybe!).
I always associate this rice salad with summer vacations spent in Sardinia, Italy. The familiar flavours of this summertime meal has become a year-round comfort food for me. I’ve been eating this rice salad for as long as I can remember. It reminds of long days at the beach, sitting under the umbrella eating lunch, and warm summer evenings spent sitting around the table with family and friends. Although the recipe seems basic enough, it lends to variety of interpretations, which makes every single recipe unique and just as delicious as the next. The beauty of this insalata di riso is that you can’t mess it up. I mean, it’s nearly impossible. (That is, unless you don’t know how to cook rice!).
This Italian rice salad is simply boiled rice (specifically parboiled), mixed with a variety of condiments, seasoned with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, sometimes a dollop of mayo, and salt and pepper. Be sure to use good quality extra virgin olive oil in this recipe as it can make or break the recipe. Choose an extra virgin olive oil with a deep green hue for best results.
The traditional insalata di riso recipe calls Condiriso. It’s a delicious blend of preserved vegetables-artichokes, mushrooms, capers, carrots, peas, and more. Most specialty grocery stores stock this item however, if you cannot find it, don’t be deterred from making this recipe. It tastes just as delicious without it!
Over the years I’ve developed my own version of the traditional recipe, and although I have a specific one, the recipe often gets reinvented depending on the availability of seasonal ingredients, or just simply what I’m in the mood for at the time I prepare it. My recipe is only a guideline since insalata di riso is more about the type of preparation as opposed to specific ingredients. In fact, this recipe is totally open to improvisation.
Some delicious ingredients you can add in are: grilled zucchini or eggplant, roasted red peppers, artichokes (canned variety, drained), navy beans or black beans, black or green olives, cubed pieces of prosciutto or cooked ham, Parmesan cheese, smoked salmon, fresh capers, grated mozzarella cheese, pearl onions, canned corn
Serve this insalata di riso cold or at room temperature. Whichever way you prepare or serve it, it’s delicious!
If you try this recipe (and love it!) be sure to snap a pic and tag me onInstagram with #bitesforfoodies so I can see your creation!