Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Rice, Rice, Rice is So Nice!

I love rice. I will admit it.
I like it plain, I like it fancy.
But I have to tell you, I have never made a rice salad.
Until I saw this one recipe recently and thought it was worth a try.
A quick dinner when the weather is hot. An easy lunch with the leftovers.
Summer is coming, with BBQs and picnics and you will need a new idea, something to bring along. So, instead of a potato or pasta salad, how about we think rice?

Insalata di Riso
adapted from Rebecca Wilcomb, Herbsaint, New Orleans, Louisiana 
Yield: 6 servings Cook Time: 20 minutes 

  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice 
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 
  •  ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 6 ounces mortadella, chopped into ½-inch cubes 
  • 4 ounces mild Swiss cheese (preferably Emmentaler), chopped into ½-inch cubes 
  • ⅔ cup good-quality oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked, 
  • 1 ounce pitted green olives, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup) 
  • 3 tablespoon brine-packed capers, rinsed 
  • 1 small fresno chile, finely minced 
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced 
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  •  Zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped 
  •  Freshly ground black pepper 
  • Juice of 1½ lemons, plus more to taste
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally,  about 15-18 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the vinegar and salt and turn the rice out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Spread the rice into an even layer and set aside to cool. Once the rice is cool, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, mortadella, Swiss cheese, tuna, olives, capers, chile, garlic, parsley and lemon zest; season with black pepper. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Add the lemon juice and taste again, adjusting with more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. 

OK, I must say, I did not follow every point of that recipe. What else is new.
I think this is a recipe where you can add or subtract what you like or have on hand, so long as you just keep the general idea in mind.
I had some asparagus, so I cut them up, blanched them with the rice and added them. I added some sliced scallions, used basil rather than parsley and for the cheese and meat, I bought an antipasto mix at my local deli, that contains a variety of meats, cheese and peppers, celery and onions, all nicely marinated already. I added some tiny pickled onions too.
And I cooked the rice a bit more than she did in the recipe. Done, but not overdone, and used 1 1/2 cups of rice instead of the 2 cups she did.
Different veggies, different meats or cheeses or fish is all up to you, although the tuna is traditional.

I think a few steps are very important though. I did cook the rice as she directed, and added the salt and vinegar to the cooked rice before I let it cool. I do the same with potatoes for potato salad, adding vinegar to the hot taters, and think it add a lot of flavor. You must add the lemon zest and juice and the oil! OK, maybe a bit less oil than she did, but close. Very good and gets better as it sits in the frig for awhile. And nice looking too I think, don't you?

Speaking of rice, as much as I love plain white, long grain rice, these days you can't help but look for something just a little more healthy. Like brown rice. But I will admit I did not have a lot of success cooking brown rice in my usual stovetop way. Overdone...underdone...blaaaach. Then I discovered Baked Brown Rice...and it is the only method I now use. Easy and perfect every time.

In a square 8 inch glass pan, put...
1- 1/2 cups brown rice
2- 1/3 cups boiling water
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. butter
Stir, cover tightly with aluminum foil and baked in a 375 degree oven for one hour.
When you take it out, open the foil and stir, then cover  again and let sit for 10 minutes, then serve.
Perfect and easy, every time!

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Your rice salad looks sooooo good. I am definitely making it. For sure. The sooner the better!

  2. I have a rice cooker. One of the most-used appliances I own. I haven't made stovetop rice since the early 1980s. Truly liberating.

    Enough about me ... love the look of your rice salad. I'm bookmarking it for summer because it looks like the perfect light dinner on the deck.

  3. A restaurant here makes something similar to that with orzo and it is delicious!

  4. I've never had rice as a salad, don't know why because it looks so good. Saving this one! I think I need to try that baking method, I usually use boil-in-bag brown rice because I am so bad at rice.

  5. I am not crazy about tuna, but I love the rice method and I am going to try it, because my brown rice leaves something to be desired. Thanks for this post.

  6. I would definitely cut the tuna (not a fan - I was served way too many tuna casseroles growing up in the '60s!) But, this recipe looks very good. I love the tang that red wine vinegar adds to any recipe.

    1. I will admit I hesitated at the tuna, but finally did add it. And I liked it!

      But as I said, I think you can go a lot of different ways with what you add to this and it will still be delicious.

  7. I love rice too. And how interesting about baking it! I never heard of that, but definitely plan to try it!

  8. The Rice salad looks yummy, but baking the brown rice is what got my attention...why on earth didn't somebody think of this before? I'm definitely going to try it, because, like you, I love rice, but have been avoiding the white stuff for health reasons and the brown stuff because it's such a pain to make. Thanks for the hint.

  9. Your baked rice method has me intrigued. I'll give it a try. I also like all the little goodies, like pickled onions, in this salad. Sounds good.

  10. Looks great. I may give brown rice another try.

  11. That looks amazing!!! I could seriously live on rice. Nothing else. Just RICE!!

  12. Lovely salad! I like that you improvised a lot, and the deli antipasto mix was a good time saver.

    I also love rice, but have never made any rice salads. I prefer brown, and always soak it a few hours before cooking it (makes it fluffier). Like Beth, I use a rice cooker almost always.

  13. Your rice salad looks great. There are several things that, no matter how slow or careful I am I can never get the cooking right, and rice is one of those things. I will have a go with this though!

  14. What a great method for cooking rice! I love easy ways to do basic things like that.


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