Friday, July 14, 2006

Insalata di Riso – Rice Salad - Summertime Treat

True Italian food is simplicity exemplified. Fresh ingredients mixed and matched to balance flavor and texture. Seasonality plays an important role in traditional cuisine. When the weather is cold, savory sauces and meats while fish and cold dishes populate the hot summer months. Insalata di Riso is a summertime favorite when the temperature rises and the appetite subsides. Just about any vegetable in season can be a part of this expression of freshness. Quick to prepare, full of vitamins and all the necessary elements of a balanced diet, Rice Salad is the perfect choice for a hot summer evening or a quick lunch.

That queasy, uncomfortable feeling following a heavy meal on a hot day can zap energy and generally ruin the rest of the day. Nutrition is necessary, we have to eat, we love to eat, but then we pay the price. As Raffaella would say, “I need a nap.” Sure fruits are great but they do not really satisfy and I do not consider munching on celery or carrots as a meal. Eating a sandwich more than once a day is not a solution either, it is just not right. Think about cooking on a hot day, do you want to spend your evening over a hot stove when the temperature is 90+ degrees, even with air conditioning you still feel the heat.

Insalata di Riso is a perfect solution. It takes less than 30 minutes to put it together. It can be prepared in the early morning hours or over the weekend and kept in the icebox. A cool, flavorful and healthy solution right for any day, Insalata di Riso can be made with just about anything. Pickled vegetables, Tuna fish, hot dogs, fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables, capers, the trick is in the proportions. Generally the rule is 1 part rice and 1 part everything else with some Olive Oil to hold it all together. This is the recipe my kids loved.

2 lbs (1 kg.) uncooked Arborio rice
8 oz. (220 gr.) hotdogs (diced in ¼ inch cubes)
8 oz. (220 gr.) Olives Pitted
16 oz. (450 gr.) Vegetables, carrots, peas, artichoke hearts, baby celery, baby corn
4 oz. (110 gr.) thinly cut mushrooms – bottled under oil
1 oz. (20 gr.) capers
2 hardboiled (8 minute) eggs
¼ cup Olive Oil

Preparation of fresh vegetables:

Dice the vegetables into ¼ inch cubes. When the Water for the rice boils place the vegetables in a wire basket and dip for 3 minutes in the boiling water. Remove the wire basket and place under running cold water for 30 seconds. Let drain.

Frozen Vegetables, Pickled Vegetables or Vegetables under oil require no preparation.

Fill a medium pot to ¾ full with water. Bring to a fast boil. If using fresh vegetables dip them in the boiling water for 3 minutes and remove.

Pour the rice in the water. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes. Strain the rice in a colander and run cold water over the rice for 30 seconds. Place the rice in a large glass bowl.

Add the diced hotdogs, pitted olives, sliced mushrooms, capers and diced vegetables. Pour the olive oil on top. Mix thoroughly with two spoons.

Slice the two hardboiled eggs and place them across the top of the salad. Refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

Serving: Allow the salad to sit outside the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before serving. The salad should be cool but not cold.


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Blogger a.c.t. said...

I just adore insalata di riso - I used to have it all the time in the summer in Italy. We would have cheese on ours too. I'm glad you reminded me of it, I must make it again.

10:08 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ACT Yes the cheese is a great addition as are bell peppers under oil but I always want bread with those two ingredients (strange, huh).

10:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

vaguely reminds me of an insalata pantesca....had when we were living on Pantelleria

right on ~ Davide!

11:24 AM

Blogger a.c.t. said...

Yes, I can never have cheese without bread either.

1:29 AM

Blogger Tracie P. said...

hey, you forgot the corn! and red onions and basil...mmmm

i love rice salad! it's just not the same without riso gallo though, esp integrale :)

8:14 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Tracie b. Good to see you back. Insalata di Riso has many, many versions. Mostly do to local vegetables or family traditions. This is my family's recipe however my daughter makes one without the mushrooms and adding sliced grilled bell peppers, corn, and a sprinkle of peperoncino.

The onions would be a bit more hearty than my tastes allow.

8:54 AM


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