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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Step-6: Cut into bite-size pieces the tomatoes,
bell peppers and black olives.
Step-7: Finely chop the parsley.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Best served chilled at 12°C.