When Summer arrives, rice salad is a must in Italy. You can find it in many versions. Some of them include a strong vinegar component that’s not for my palate. It’s also a perfect dish for a party. You can make a big batch of it and shape it as a mountain, using a bowl to mold it on a platter or serve it in smaller single portions. The key for a good rice salad is to use fresh ingredients, balance them, and add a nice helping of basil. And some good company to share this beauty with! I made it for a big party with my Dutch relatives and they fell in love with it.
Here below you’ll find 2 alternatives, one vegan, and one pescatarian.
Ingredients for 6-8 servings
For the vegan version:
400 g of rice (better if salad rice or Carnaroli rice)
100 g of cherry tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 artichokes hearts, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
100 g of peas, frozen if you prefer
50 g black olives, pitted, in halves
100 g of cucumber, diced
½ avocado, diced
1 Tbsp capers, roughly chopped
8-10 basil leaves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pescatarian version you can add:
100 g of rice
1 natural canned tuna, drained, and minced
4 anchovies, minced
100 g of shrimps
Chop and dice the ingredients, as per instruction above. Try to even the dimensions of the dices, to achieve a homogenous result.
Steam or boil the rice together with the peas, the carrots, and the artichokes hearts for about 10 minutes, or according to what’s written on rice package. To keep the rice ‘al dente’ (with a bite to it) deduct about 2 minutes from the package instructions. Taste it to make sure it’s cooked.
For the pescatarian version steam or boil the shrimps for about 5 minutes, you can add them to the other ingredients after 5 minutes they are cooking.
Rinse the steamed/boiled ingredients with running cold water and drain.
Roast the pepper with a drizzle of olive oil inside a combo microwave for 5-10 minutes, or for about 20 min in a conventional oven at 200°, until it’s nicely brown. Let it cool.
Mix all the ingredients you chopped and diced, together with the steamed ingredients and the roasted bell pepper.
Add the seasoning and shape it as you like. You can have fun with decorations.
Refrigerate for half an hour before to serve. If you have the time to prepare it the night before, to infuse the flavor, the taste will be even better.
In case you have a microwave, try to use a microwave-safe rice cooker, and place all the ingredients to steam inside it, together with some water. Set the microwave for about 10 minutes at 700 watts, and the job is done!