Insalata di riso- Italian Rice Salad: easy recipe. The best dish for a summer meal


Does the ultimate perfect rice salad recipe exist? I don’t think so! Everyone has got their own favorite … it is a matter of experience, habits, and what you have in your fridge!

You can even close your eyes and make it: combine the ingredients you like, it is a done deal! I have my own recipe, keep on reading to find all my secrets.

This is a typical summer, or spring dish, makes a perfect light picnic lunch to share with your family and friends. What do you need? A little rice and plenty of imagination: a bit if this and and bit of that- you have done your magic! It is always different, yet scrumptious! You can choose among a wide range of variations: use just a few ingredients or a lot of tiny delicacies! Truly succulent.

It is a nice easy to make dish because everyone can make a scrumptious salad rice and swap their special recipes with their friends! Anyway, I am sure you will be never able to make a salad rice which is the same as the previous one. It is always like that!

Italian rice salad

What is salad rice like?

It is easy and fast to make, definitely fanciful. It makes everyone happy.

Traditional (yet this is an inappropriate word!) rice salad is the summer dish par excellence: fresh, light, and richly dressed to your taste; only one rule: opt for colorful, seasonal tasty ingredients. Set your imagination free, create several combinations, but you must cut all the ingredients you like into tiny dices. The tinier they are, the most flavorful your rice salad will get: the single taste of the rice and the dressing will get mixed up in an even symphony of tastes.

Even more scrumptious? Prepare it the day before and keep in the fridge overnight: it will become  your super toothsome lunch main course.

What do you have to expect from this dish?

There is only one rule to make salad rice: there are no rules. Use the ingredients you want in the quantities you prefer! You will never get bored with it, as the taste will be different all the time.

Is it a light dish?

As a nutritionist, I can tell you that calorie intake depends on the seasoning: the more seasoning the more calories. That’s why you should always use a spoon to measure the oil quantity and drain well all the oil and vinegar packed ingredients.

Undoubtedly, it is a main course which is made of macro-nutrients; carbs, proteins, and fat. Make your meal balanced by adding a few vegetables, such as a crispy green salad dressed with little oil.

This dish breaks the rules of only one protein at a time, yet you may occasionally allow yourself to bend the rules: you don’t have rice salad very day.

italian rice salad

Which are the right servings?

The average serving of raw rice is about 60-80g for the women and 80-100g for the men,

Cook the right quantity of rice; not too little, not too much.

How can you season rice salad?

Rice salad always turns out right as long as you use high quality ingredients. The taste may vary very much according to the dressing you choose. I generally opt for extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a few drops of lemon juice, as a split up sort of mayo. Actual mayo, or a vinagrette of oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard are also common. In case of mayo, do not exaggerate with it: more taste but plenty of fat!

The main actor: the rice, but not only…

You may opt for several types of rice, from the most common ribe which is generally used to make parboiled one because of its resistance to ‘mushiness’ to Carnaroli or Arborio whose grains are quite big and strong, or even the very robust Baldo rice.

Basmati rice may fits a toothsome rice salad, black Venere or red rice, as well. They are very aromatic and resistant to mushiness.

However, if you don’t like rice, replace it with barley, spelt, quinoa, or other grain cereals.

italian rice salad

Carefully choose high quality ingredients

First of all, veggies to your taste: only fresh, organic crispy ones. In Italy, we usually combine all or some of these: tomatoes, carrots, celery and bell peppers.

Green peas play an important part along with sweetcorn, as they make the salad more colorful. Do you fancy any olives? Why not? Of course! Opt for pitted olives: you won’t have to bother with the pit while eating your scrumptious rice salad…very annoying, indeed! What about some pickled cucumbers, or pearl onions? Then a few vinegar or oil packed mushrooms.

Tuna and eggs are integral part of the salad along with ham and cheese dices.

Don’t forget some capers (the best ones are in salt).

Go the extra mile: sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley or chives.

italian rice salad

Italian Rice Salad: easy recipe. The best dish for a summer meal

It is spring time here, in Italy! Let’s spend some time outdoors, let’s have a picnic! What about a relaxing day trip with family and friends? Let's spend some time with the loved ones. 
What food should we put into our lunch box? Do you fancy some delicious rice salad instead of the same ordinary sandwiches? 
Fresh, easy to prepare, you can bring it everywhere, just provide yourself with a cooler bag, and it is a done deal! 
Well, even if you are not having a day trip, rice salad is a healthy nice main course for your lunch break at work, or when you don't have much time to cook. 
It will easily last a few days in the fridge. 
Of course rice salad is made of rice, but I sometimes replace it with pearl barley, spelt, or a combination of cereal grains, then I add a few ingredients I have in the fridge. 
It is easy to prepare because almost any leftovers are good to make it tasty. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword insalata di riso, rice salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 320 gr arborio rice
  • 100 gr frozen peas (smaller ones are better) or 100g of sweetcorn  
  • 80 gr vinegar pearl onions
  • 50 gr pickled cucumbers
  • 50 gr oil packed mushrooms
  • 2 small carrots 
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 gr pitted green or black olives
  • 2 compact tomatoes 
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 think slice of ham (at least  5 mm- 0/64 inch)
  • 80 gr oil packed tuna
  • 100 gr Emmenthal cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • the juice of half a lemon 
  • salt and pepper 


  • Cook the rice in plenty of salty boiling water according to the package directions (about 12-15 minutes); 
  • Stir the rice as soon as you have poured it into the water with a wooden spoon, then don’t touch it any more not to break the grains; 
  • Taste it for the doneness; you should drain rice “al dente”- don’t overcook it;
  • Drain it in a strainer and rinse in cold water: it helps with keeping the rice “al dente” and the grains won’t stick together; 
  • Prepare all the ingredients of the seasoning;
  • Boil the frozen peas for about 6 minutes and let them cool down completely; 
  • Rinse the pickled cucumbers and mushrooms in a strainer under cold water; dice and put them, into a big salad bowl; 
  • Peel the carrots with a peeler and cut the into small dices; add to the bowl; 
  • Wash and finely slice the celery, add to the bowl; 
  • Dice ham, cheese, and tuna and add everything to the bowl; 
  • Add the rice and two tablespoons of oil; toss until well combined; 
  • Season with salt, lemon and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley; 
  • Prepare hard boiled eggs, and let them cool down in cold water; peel them and cut into 4 wedges; place them onto the salad to garnish;
  • Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight; 
  • Serve it the following day; toss it well before serving.
italian rice salad

Insalata di riso- Italian Rice Salad: easy recipe

This is my own variation- it is more rustic as it reminds the typical Northern Italian flavors- stronger yet really delicious taste!  Try my rice salad and tell me if you like it!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword italian rice salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 320 gr rice
  • 100 gr diced ham or speck
  • 100 gr dice semi hard cheese (Emmental or Ceddar)
  • 50-80 gr pickled pearl onions
  • 50-80 gr pickled gherkin
  • 6 tbsp salted capers
  • 8-10 tbsp pitted olives
  • 150 gr mushrooms preserved in oil
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt


  • Cook the rice according to pack instructions: bring the water to a rolling boil and add a handful of coarse salt then the rice;
  • Once cooked, rinse under running cold water to cool down and prevent overcooking;
  • In a bowl, combine all the ingredients: drain the mushrooms well to remove the excess oil, wash off the salt from the capers;
  • Season with a little oil (keep away from mayo, otherwise it will get too rich in calories), salt and a little pepper.
  • There plenty of combinations of ingredients! I have just prepared it according to my favorite recipe, it is delicious! How do you make it? How do you make it? 

How long does rice said last?

Rice salad keeps fresh in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 or 3 days. You may freeze it only if you use fresh ingredients.

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4 thoughts on “Insalata di riso- Italian Rice Salad: easy recipe. The best dish for a summer meal

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