Short-grain arborio, the rice used to create creamy risotto, gets a completely different treatment here. Cooking the rice in abundant salted water and tossing it with olive oil keeps the grains from sticking together and turns them into a great base for a summer salad. The assertive flavors in this rice salad are especially welcome on a hot day when you are looking for something to stimulate your appetite.
If the salad is made in advance and refrigerated, give it about 30 minutes at room temperature before it is served.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 1/2 ounces (1 can) best-quality tuna in olive oil, drained
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into dice
- 3/4 cup pitted purple or green olives, or a mix, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, cut into small dice
- 1/2 cup jarred marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup pickled pearl (cocktail) onions, drained
- 1/4 cup sliced cornichons (cut crosswise)
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (not mayonnaise-based salad dressing or sandwich spread; do not use nonfat)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rice and let the water return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is al dente (tender but still a little firm in the center and not at all mushy). Drain the rice in a colander and rinse it under cold water. Drain thoroughly and transfer the rice to a large bowl.
Toss the rice with the olive oil to coat evenly, then add the tuna, eggs, mozzarella, olives, bell peppers, artichokes, onions, cornichons, parsley and capers. Gently fold to mix the ingredients. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle. Serve within the hour or refrigerate.
Adapted from Domenica Marchetti's "The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy" (Chronicle Books, 2006).
Tested by Mari-Jane Williams.
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