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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.
 

 

Grilled Shrimp with Red Rice Salad

 Grilling season is in full swing, but before you know it, summer will be over and we’ll all move on to heartier soups and stews. But while the weather’s still warm and friends stop by for a barbecue, here’s a recipe to try before the season’s over:

 shrimp bathed in a herby, garlicky marinade, then threaded onto skewers and grilled over hot coals.
Try serving the shrimp over a rice salad, as I did, using a combination of red rice and white rice, plus a bunch of vegetables. You don’t have to be dogmatic about the recipe – just use whatever you have on hand or what you like. At this time of year, backyard vegetable gardens and farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh produce, so it’s easy to come up with flavorful combinations.
I never cooked with red rice until I spotted it recently at a local market. It’s commonly grown in the Himalayan mountains, Southern Tibet, Bhutan, Southern India and more recently, the Camargue region of Southern France. I learned that it’s a culinary and nutritional superstar, rich in minerals like potassium and magnesium. It’s also a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates. As if that weren’t enough, it’s loaded with antioxidants too, similar to what’s found in deep purple or reddish fruits and vegetables.
For this cold rice salad, I was afraid if I used red rice only, it might end up looking like dog food, so I added in some white rice to make it a little more visually appealing. I added lots of vegetables too, and honestly, with the shrimp skewers covering the top, the salad wasn’t even visible at first. I used a simple dressing of mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice, an idea from my buddy, Marie of Proud Italian Cook.
You can make the salad a day or even two ahead of time, freeing you up the day of your party or picnic. The shrimp can also be served cold, although I like them best when they’re hot off the grill.
Ciao Chow Linda is also on Facebook and Instagram. Click here to connect with me on Facebook and  here for my Instagram page to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
And if you live in the Central N.J. area, join me on Saturday, August 29 at 11 a.m. at the West Windsor Farmer’s Market, when I’ll be on a panel discussion with other food writers and photographers, including Rome-based Katie Parla and NJ Monthly columnist Pat Tanner.

Grilled Shrimp
for the marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced (the more the better)
minced fresh herbs (I used parsley, oregano, thyme and basil)
a few shakes of red hot pepper flakes
salt, pepper
2 pounds raw shrimp (I like to buy wild shrimp caught in the U.S.)
Mix all the above ingredients, except the shrimp. Clean the shrimp, removing the shells and cleaning out the central vein. Place the marinade and shrimp in a bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least two to three hours. Thread the shrimp on skewers and cook over a hot grill for about two minutes on each side. Alternately, preheat the broiler in your oven and cook for a couple of minutes.
Red Rice Salad
1 cup red rice
1 cup white long grain rice
5 cups water
3 carrots, cooked or raw, your choice, minced
1/2 cup minced green or red pepper
1 cup minced tomatoes, deseeded
4 scallions, chopped
2 ears of corn, raw or cooked, your choice, and cut from the cob
a large handful of minced herbs, your choice (I used parsley, thyme and oregano)
salt, pepper1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice

Cook the rice in water. Let the rice cool, then add all the other ingredients, except the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and add to the rice, stirring it in thoroughly.  Taste and add more seasonings or more mayonnaise and lemon juice, according to your taste. Serve chilled with the shrimp skewers on top.