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L'insalata di Riso

L'insalata di Riso:
Summer Never Tasted So Good!
Recipe and photos by Tom Weber


Some parts of the Bel Paese like rice as much as, if not more than, pasta, the signature dish of Italy, in all its variations, that the rest of the world has come to know, love and envy.

Venice at dusk

In the part of Italy where I hang my hat, the Veneto region of the northeast, rice rules. It's been that way since the tiny grain was first offloaded in the middle of the 15th century by inbound Venetian merchant ships that traded with the east.

Grain imports aside, rice works its magic across all seasons, but seems to be at its best during summertime. Rice actually works overtime between late June to the end of August as just about everybody loves and devours l'insalata di riso (rice salad), a light and flavorful dish served cold that's readily available all around la Penisula.

ingredients for the insalata di riso

Like politics and religion, anyone who wields a wooden spoon has his/her own opinion on the proper ingredients that should go into a fork-worthy rice salad. Truth be told, there is no definitive version of the dish; l'insalata di riso varies from town-to-town, city-to-city and region-to-region. Seems the only ingredient that all parties can agree on is that there is rice in a rice salad.

small shrimp

For me, I prefer mine with fish – small sautéed shrimp and yellowfin tuna – along with crunchy red and yellow bell peppers, juicy cherry tomatoes, toasted black olives and a drizzle of vinaigrette on top. When mixed all together, summertime never tasted so good.

Now, if you'll grab that bag of rice we can head into la cucina and I'll demonstrate my take on this classic dish.

recipe for the insalata di riso

Step-1: Add the rice to a pot of salted boiling water. Let it cook, uncovered, for 10-min.

Step-2: When the rice is al dente, turn off the heat, drain and place in a large salad bowl.

Step-3: Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice to the rice, stir, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for 30-min.

sauted shrimp in skillet

Step-4: In a skillet, sauté the shrimp in olive oil, crushed garlic and red pepper for 5 min. Remove from heat and let it relax.

yellowfin tuna

Step-5: Open the can of tuna and use the lid to drain out the packing oil a/o spring water. Separate the tuna into small pieces.


black olives and bell peppers

Step-6: Cut into bite-size pieces the tomatoes, bell peppers and black olives.

Step-7: Finely chop the parsley.

rice mixed with sautéed shrimp, skillet drippings, tuna, peppers, tomatoes and black olives

Step-8: Remove the bowl of rice from the fridge. Combine the sautéed shrimp, with skillet drippings, tuna, peppers, tomatoes and black olives. Mix thoroughly and top with chopped parsley. Re-cover and return the bowl to the fridge for an additional 30-min.

vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and spicy red pepper

Step-9: In a small jar, prepare a vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and spicy red pepper. Cover, shake and then set aside.

finished insalata di riso

insalata di riso with grissini sticks

Step-10: Remove rice salad from fridge, plate, drizzle the vinaigrette over the rice, add the remaining parsley, top with standing grissini sticks, and serve.


Recommended Wine Pairing: 2011 Trissino Chardonnay DOC – Tenuta Dalle Ore – Trissino (VI), Italy

2011 Trissino Chardonnay DOC

A deep golden-yellow, this robust Chardonnay, 14% by volume, is harvested on terraced hills in the Valle dell'Agno around Trissino in the province of Vicenza.

The bouquet is complex with hints of yellow flowers, orange blossoms, citrus fruits, figs, walnuts, chestnuts and minerals. The taste is dry, full-bodied and persistent with strong mineral elements combined with pleasant hints of citrus.

a plate of insalata di riso with 2011 Trissino Chardonnay DOC

fish with antipasti

The 2011 Trissino Chardonnay DOC pairs well with oily fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish, along with a variety of antipasti, first-course pasta and rice dishes – like l'insalata di riso – white meat-based second courses, and a variety of cheeses.

Best served chilled at 12°C.


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Hi Audrey,

Love your lamb shanks.

--- Paul, Scottsdale AZ

Haven't been called Tad for . . .gee, maybe I've NEVER been called Tad . . . guess I'm the only one with chutzpah enough to mention Bourdain. BRILLIANT?

--- Ken, Shutesbury, MA

I think we must have had an entirely different experience in the UK. (Fresh Food and Real Ale – week 1). We were up in Edinburgh and they served something called ‘Neeps & Tatties.’ The items were boiled so long that I couldn’t even recognize what I was eating. Come to think of it… I couldn’t taste them either. Later I found that Neeps’ are Turnips and ‘Tatties’ are potatoes.

--- Lindy, Phoenix, AZ

My mouth was watering as I read some of your descriptions of the fantastic fare of ... England? I had always felt smug about the lowly reputation of British cuisine as this gave us at least one country with a worse culinary reputation than America's. I guess I'll have to change my views. Your article made me actually want to take a CULINARY tour of Britain. Yummy yummy yummy.

--- Sandy Miner, Portland, OR

Thanks for your note. Thanks to Traveling Boy I get to interview a world famous chef this week who is widely recognized as spearheading the Yummy movement in Ireland. Guess I'll have to take yet another culinary tour a little further north and check it out... (I love my job!) --- Audrey

Very interesting, mouth-watering piece by Audrey! (A McDreamy McMeel). Your web site is fascinating!

--- Susie, Victoria, BC

Combining travel, food, and intelligent advice -- BRILLIANT! Your site fills a long-felt need for hungry roamers. Keep it up! It's Anthony Bourdain with reservations and CLASS.

--- Tad, Boston, MA

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