This is a super fast and easy summertime meal that can be thrown together with whatever you have in the fridge and cupboard. All you need is some cooked rice and a bit of imagination.
Although the varieties are infinite, since you can throw in whatever you like, there are a few main types of rice salad – those that use meat, those that use seafood or a vegetarian version. A meat based salad can include chopped hot dogs, cubes of plain cooked or seasoned ham, or even diced cooked chicken. A seafood based salad would feature shrimp, sardines, cooked mollusks or even simply canned tuna. A vegetarian version would use pinto beans or haricots, and a wide variety of fresh and/or pickled vegetables.
Each type of salad, in addition to its main theme, has a few tried and true ingredients in common. It wouldn't be an authentic Italian rice salad without chopped bell peppers, julienned carrots, artichoke hearts and mushrooms conserved in extra-virgin olive oil, capers – rinsed, of course, to remove the salt, pitted olives and onions, either pickled or fresh and finely sliced.
Optional ingredients can include diced mozzarella, assorted pickled vegetables, chopped pickles, or a hard-boiled egg. The basic rule for creating your ideal rice salad is that t here are no rules. The sky is the limit – let your culinary creativity shine and create your own unique version of this summer classic.
Here's a basic recipe to get you started . . .
Ingredients for a salad for 4:
250 grams rice
150 grams prosciutto cotto (cooked ham)
150 grams speck (typical Tyrolian smoked ham)
50 grams pitted green olives
20 grams capers
5 cherry tomatoes
some fresh mushrooms
3 bell peppers (1 red, 1, green, 1 yellow)
1 large slice Swiss cheese (or provola cheese or spicy pecorino cheese)
1. Wash the bell peppers and broil them until their skin turns black. Let cool, then peel and cut into squares or long, thin strips.
2. Wash the mushrooms and cut them lengthwise.
3. Boil the rice in slightly salty water, drain and let cool.
4. The eggs can be hard-boiled separately or together with the rice. Once cooked, peel them and cut into rounds.
5. While the rice is cooking, chop the tomatoes (drain the juice), olives, cheese, speck and ham into cubes.
6. Once the rice has cooled, put it in a large salad bowl, dress it with extra-virgin olive oil (or mayonnaise, if you prefer) and add the chopped ingredients from Step 5, plus the eggs, bell peppers, mushrooms and capers.
7. Add a bit more oil (or mayo), mix well and place in refridgerator for a couple of hours.
8. Serve cold.
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