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Italian Rice Salad

By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

During summertime across Italy, we always prepare a traditional cold dish called Insalata di Riso. This colorful recipe is healthy and easy to make . . . and every family has its own recipe. There are several variations of this rice salad, but today I’d love to share my own family's version. It is packed with flavor!

You can use canned tuna, würstel, ham, mortadella dices, boiled eggs—whatever you want to use to personalize your recipe. The only important thing is to choose the right kind of rice, and it must be cooked al dente!

You can choose from several types of rice. The most common is called Ribe, which is used for most parboiled rice dishes because it can hold together without being overcooked. You could also choose Arborio rice (fairly large and resistant grains) or the robust Baldo. Avoid Carnaroli and keep it for risotto instead.

This dish can be prepared in advance and can be kept for up to two or three days in the fridge. It is perfect for a picnic or to feed many guests during a barbecue party. It also makes a perfect light lunch at work or for a trip to the beach.

Insalata di Riso

Serves 4 people

2 cups raw rice

2–3 German-style wieners, thinly sliced (and/or cooked ham, cubed)

100 g Swiss cheese, cut into small cubes

Mixed pickled vegetables

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Optional additions:

Fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar



Chopped parsley or other herbs

Bring the water and rice to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender but still firm to the bite—about 14 minutes. Drain excess water; let cool, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, slice the meat and cut up the cheese along with the various veggies and other condiments of your choice.

Turn the rice into a large bowl, then add all the ingredients, mixing with a spoon. Drizzle olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix again, taste, and repeat, mixing gently each time until the salad is seasoned as you like it.

Make sure not to overdo it with the salt—the rice should already be seasoned as it's cooked, and the condiments are already salty.


Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), The Grimore, The Magic of the Moon, and Magic Herbs (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).

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