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Insalata di Riso

20 minutes prep
15 minutes active cooking
35 minutes total

Makes 6 - 8 servings
Print recipe

In August Italians celebrate the 2000 year old holiday called Ferragosto, and for many that includes rice salad. Emperor Augustus decreed the first day of his eponymous month a day of rest to follow the harvest, and the Catholic Church later moved the pagan holiday to the 15th to coincide with the assumption. Insalata di riso, Italian rice salad, came along much later.

Rice was introduced to Italy in the 1500s but wasn’t grown on a large scale until the mid-1800s. Its connection to the summer holiday likely dates to Mussolini’s introduction in the late ‘20s of the “People's Trains of Ferragosto,” cheap August train tickets to give the peninsula’s poor a chance for a vacation. The budget rail pass didn’t include the usual meal, so food that could travel for a day or two was packed for the trip. Traditionally made from a few pantry ingredients supplemented with cheese and salami, insalata di riso was perfect for the warm weather ride to the beach or mountains.

Italian versions traditionally combine good canned tuna with cubed ham or a salami like mortadella along with a soft cheese, but you can leave either or both out for a vegetable-centric salad. And while preserved vegetables packed in oil or vinegar are classic, feel free to add whatever looks good from your garden or the farmers market.

What you'll need


For the shopping list

1/2 cup of

cooked ham or mortadella salami, cut into 1/8 inch cubes

1/2 cup of

frozen peas

1/2 cup of

goat horn peppers in oil

Large handful of flat-leaf parsley, mint, or a combination, chopped

From our shop

$6 - San Joaquin Valley - California

About 3/4 cup of uncooked rice yields roughly 2 cups cooked, and we prefer the cook-it-like-pasta technique. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add the rice, and cook at an active boil for 11 minutes for long-grain white rice like the Carolina Gold, 35 minutes for Koda Farms Kokuho Rose brown rice.

Out of stock
1 can of Wild Canned Albacore Tuna

$11 - Lummi Island - Washington

Wild Canned Albacore Tuna

$6 - Ferndale - Washington

Fior di Latte Fresh Mozzarella

substitute any soft Italian-style cheese

$17 - Pantelleria - Sicily

Capers in Sea Salt

$15 - Napa - California

Trio Red Wine Vinegar

$32 - Sicily - Italy

Antheo D.O.P.
Out of stock
To taste Italian Fine Sea Salt

$7 - Trapani - Sicily

Italian Fine Sea Salt


From the kitchen


Mixing Bowl


Sauce Pan


Chef Knife


Cutting Board

Measuring Cups

Measuring Spoons

Optional and desirable additions and substitutions

A classic insalata di riso always includes good canned tuna and some kind of cured pork product. While ham, aka prosciutto cotto in Italy, is the most common, fine-grained salume like mortadella or even hot dogs (called by their German name, würstel, in Italy) are perfect, too.

Other pantry items to consider include jarred pickled vegetables and canned artichokes. Chopped olives and a couple of hard-boiled eggs are welcome additions, and some Pantellerian oregano and Greek thyme flowers compliment the fresh herbs.

What you'll have to do

Step 1

Let the cooked rice cool slightly, then add the other ingredients and toss to combine.

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Rice & Grains

Kokuho Rose Heirloom White Rice

Koda FarmsSan Joaquin Valley - California
Out of stock
Wild Canned Albacore Tuna
From the Sea

Wild Canned Albacore Tuna

Lummi Island WildLummi Island - Washington
Capers in Sea Salt
Capers, Pickles, & Peppers

Capers in Sea Salt

Bonomo and GiglioPantelleria - Sicily
Trio Red Wine Vinegar

Trio Red Wine Vinegar

Katz FarmNapa - California
Out of stock
Italian Fine Sea Salt
Salt, Herbs, & Spices

Italian Fine Sea Salt

Gucciardo VincenzoTrapani - Sicily
Antheo D.O.P.
Olive Oil

Antheo D.O.P.

COPA Società Cooperativa AgricolaSicily - Italy

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