This is the simplest brown rice salad for the warm Summer days, made with tuna, tomato, green olives and an unusual and unexpected ingredient, at least for Italian dishes: a dash of ketchup.
My mum always adds a little bit of ketchup to her rice salad and I’ve learned to appreciate its pleasant sweet-and-sour taste in it. I buy a good organic one and I’m actually planning to learn how to make my own, possibly without sugar. We’ll see. 🙂
Should you be a ketchup hater, you can definitely leave it out. Just use a little bit more balsamic vinegar and it’ll work out beautifully.
I called this salad “easy” because really, it couldn’t be simpler to make, especially with some left-over boiled rice and all the bits and pieces you have in your fridge and pantry. Usually an Italian rice salad contains something vinegary, for example giardiniera, the lovely mix of diced veggies preserved in vinegar you can buy in any Italian supermarket. I used tiny preserved onions and forgot to add one of the classic ingredients, gherkins. You can of course use them, if you like them as much as I do (they were right on the counter, I have no idea why I forgot to add them!). Anyway, the end result was lovely even without gherkins.
If you don’t like tuna, the other classic Italian combinations are either diced frankfurters – yes, really! – and cheese or cooked ham and cheese. Any cheese you like, but preferebly a hard one like Emmentaler, Leerdam, provolone, scamorza or similar.
You can also prepare a vegetariana/vegan version: skip the tuna and add hard-boiled eggs or sautéed tofu or mushrooms. If you use pre-cooked rice, the prepping time is really short: about 10-15 minutes max. Leave the salad to rest in the fridge for at least an hour before eating it, preferably the whole night: it will be even nicer due to the perfect combination of all the flavours.
This dish is great for a picnic, a party or a lunch or dinner in the garden. It looks lovely when served in Romaine lettuce leaves like in these photos, to be eaten wrap—style, the only thing is that devouring them this way is not a very elegant sight. Yes, you tend to look like a piggy when you do that and I talk from experience, haha. You can serve them inside the leaves and then give your tablemates forks and knives, or you can all close your eyes and enjoy eating them with your hands, totally etiquette-free. 🙂
INSALATA DI RISO FACILE
400 gr. cooked brown rice
3 medium-sized tomatoes or 300 gr. cherry tomatoes
1 can of tuna in olive oil (about 150 gr.)
2 handfuls of pitted green olives, halved
1 handful of mini onions preservd in vinegar
10-12 gherkins, chopped
2 tespoons of dried oregano
1 big carrot, diced
2-3 spoons of ketchup
2-3 spoons of balsamic vinegar
a little extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2-3 leaves of Romaine lettuce p.p.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, leave to rest in the fridge for a while before serving and enjoy! Voilà, the easiest recipe I’ve ever written!