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Italian Rice Salad and a Giveaway

I first ate a rice salad years ago in Italy, prepared by one of my cousins near Piacenza during a particularly hot summer spell. I have since seen them in many places all over Italy, whether served with a vinegar and oil base as I have here, or a mayonnaise base. Either way they’re delicious and they typically include tuna, hard-boiled eggs, peas and many other vegetables. Many even include chunks of ham, but I kept this one vegetarian. The beauty of this salad is how it adapts to whatever you have on hand in your kitchen, and you can add ingredients in whatever quantities you like. It’s a perfect salad to take to a picnic, and tastes even better the day after you make it. But it makes a fine cold lunch or dinner too, since it contains proteins as well as vegetables. Add a green salad on the side and you’ve got a healthy and delicious meal. I used arborio rice and olive oil, both sent to me by  Limone Market. The rice is a brand called “Lucedio,” from a farm in the heart of Italy’s Piedmont region.  The grains are husked only when orders are received, to ensure freshness, and they held up well to all the strong ingredients in the salad. After cooking the rice, make sure to let it cool completely before proceeding with the recipe. The oil is from an estate in Sicily called “Bona Furtuna” and is made from a single, organic variety of olive called biancolillo centinara. The oil has a mild flavor, with a slight peppery taste at the end and would work well with any type of salad, seafood or even cake recipes. Both are available at Limone Market’s online shop.

Now for the giveaway: Limone Market has graciously offered to give one of my readers an assortment of its products – arborio rice and olive oil, that I used in this salad, plus lentils and pasta. The organic pasta is made by Monogramo Felicetti with kamut, an ancient grain that originated in the Middle East. It retains its firm texture, and is an excellent source of protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals, including selenium. Plus the shape — chiocciole (snails), is great for soaking up a sauce. I served it in a meat and tomato sauce, but the next time I use it, I plan to serve it in a lighter, olive-oil based sauce, to highlight its nutty, buttery flavor.

The organic lentils are from the Umbria region, from Casa Corneli.  Although the package recommends pre-soaking them, I found this step totally unnecessary, since they have very thin skins. I used them in a salad and they retained their shape perfectly. They’d be great in a soup or as a warm side dish too.

All you have to do to receive these products is leave a comment telling me your favorite way to enjoy rice. If you’re on Instagram, follow @ciaochowlinda and @limone_market and you’ll get two extra chances to win. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator.

Click here to connect with me on Instagram and find out what’s cooking in Ciao Chow Linda’s kitchen each day (and more)

Italian Rice Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 6.7 oz. jar tuna in olive oil (preferably an Italian brand like Tonnino), broken into pieces
  • 2 eggs hard-boiled and roughly chopped
  • cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¼ cup pickled red onions, chopped into pieces
  • ¼ cup pickled or roasted peppers, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 6.5 oz. jar marinated artichokes, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, diced in small pieces and boiled until tender
  • ½ cup frozen peas, used directly from the package (not cooked)
  • minced parsley
  • salt, pepper
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 large sprigs of basil
  • salt, pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook the rice in tthe water for about 20 minutes.
  2. Let the rice cool completely.
  3. Add the rest of the salad ingredients and mix.
  4. Place the dressing ingredients in a blender and whir until all are combined well.
  5. Pour over the rice salad and mix in thoroughly.
 

 

Not Your Mamma’s Egg Salad

Happy Pasquetta! That’s the holiday after Easter when Italians all have off from work and school and take off to the country for picnics and another day of rest. Typically, they eat cold foods like leftover frittata or pizza rustic, but many people have leftover hard boiled eggs too and use them for egg salad mixed with mayonnaise.

Instead of the typical egg salad, try this different version (no mayo at all) from culinary legend Paula Wolfert, the most famous cook you’ve never heard of. Born in the U.S., she’s written nine cookbooks and has lived in Morocco before it was a travel destination on every Millenial’s to-do list. Sadly, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and the book “Unforgettable,” by Emily Kaiser Thelin, tells of her journey from a childhood in Brooklyn, to living around the world and bringing her recipes to American cooks through her cookbooks and magazine articles.

The book also addresses Wolfert’s disease and how she is dealing with it through a brain-healthy diet. If you’ve never heard of her before, you’ll learn a lot about this influential cookbook writer in this book, and find lots of intriguing recipes too, including this one for a mint-laced egg salad.

Oh, and if you want a fail-proof primer on making perfect hard-boiled eggs, click here.

Buona Pasquetta!

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Not Your Mamma's Egg Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs, boiled (see Ciao Chow Linda archives on "How to make perfect hard boiled eggs"
  • 1 to 2 cups slivered mint leaves
  • (depending on the intensity of the mint)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • 2 teaspoons mild red pepper flakes, preferably Marash
  • 2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • flaky sea salt
Instructions
  1. Peel the eggs.
  2. Using the large holes of a box grater, and working over a large bowl, grate the eggs.
  3. Add the mint, green onions, and red pepper flakes and mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice to taste, then drizzle over the egg mixture and toss to coat lightly and evenly.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
SaveSave

How To Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Who needs a tutorial on making hard-boiled eggs? Well, maybe you if you’ve ever started to boil eggs only to have them crack and burst open in the water, releasing a gush of egg whites. Or have you ever cooked them to the point where the yolks aren’t a creamy yellow, but rather have a greenish tint around the edge? Do you find it difficult to peel off the shell without a layer of egg white coming along for the ride? Come on now, fess up.

Fear not, I’ve got a foolproof way to cook them to perfection, and easily peel them too, even if it’s a bit unorthodox. I’ve been using this method for so long, I don’t even remember where I first learned it. But it works every time, and I’ve been doing this for decades.

There are many opinions on how to cook hard boiled eggs – start with cold water, start with boiling water, etc. My method starts with boiling water, but you can’t just drop an egg into the water without following these instructions exactly.

First, you’ve got to pierce the eggs with the sharp tip of a knife or a large needle, or even a turkey skewer as I do. Poke a teensy little hole in the broader end of the egg. Look at the photo below and you’ll see a little hole in each egg. Don’t do this while they’re in the egg crate. You’ve got to hold the egg in the palm of one hand while poking a hole with the knife or needle, or any other sharp pointy object. Careful, because if you press the egg too hard, you could crack it and end up with a gooey, raw mess in your hand.
Why should this work, you ask? Because if you pierce the egg and then put it into the boiling water, you’ll see little bubbles percolate out of that teensy hole. The egg is creating a seal as all the air immediately rushes out, keeping all the contents of the egg inside. It really works, try it!
When the eggs are all in the water, set the timer to 12 minutes for medium size eggs, 13 minutes for large and a few seconds longer for jumbo.

After the appropriate time is up, take the eggs off the heat and drain the water. Immediately fill the pot with cold water. Change the water two times because the heat from the eggs will warm up the cold water. You want the eggs to stop cooking.

Now take each egg and crack it all around against your sink or countertop, but don’t peel it. Drop it back into the pot with the cold water. When you’re finished tapping all the eggs and putting them back in the water, start peeling. You’ll find that water has now seeped in between the cracks you made in the eggshell, allowing you to slip the shells off easily.

Peel the eggs and slice open. Inside is a moist golden yolk, and a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg.

Next up, deviled eggs.

One caveat to this method is if the egg already has a crack in its shell, in which case you’ll find out as soon as you drop it in the boiling water because it will start to ooze its liquid immediately. Scoop it out immediately and save that one for scrambled eggs.