Insalata di riso d'estate (Italian summer rice salad)

Both Pino and I have great memories of this ubiquitous summertime dish.

Pino's mother would make it as soon as the heat at midday was too much to serve a hot meal, which generally coincided with the end of the school year.

I, on the other hand, had my first taste of Italian Rice salad on the island of Elba made for me by a lovely lady who wanted our American family to taste this Italian staple.

Not only is it an easy recipe to make, but it can be made in abundance as long as you have a very large bowl (or set of bowls). It's also easily transportable (Italians take this to the beach and on picnics) and is so much a part of summer tradition that it even appears referenced in many an Italian film.

So take a seat under your ombrellone (beach umbrella) the next time you lunch at the beach and enjoy this refreshing and filling salad. Finish off your meal with some Cocomero (watermelon in Lazio's dialect), and a nice caffè shakerato. (ice coffee made in a martini shaker with ice) Now that's Italian! no?

YIELD​ : 4 servings

PREP TIME​ : 30mins

LEVEL : Easy


300g Arborio Rice

100g Ham, small diced

80g Black olives, pitted, diced

200g Canned tuna, in oil - well drained

150g Provolone or Caciocavallo or other semi hard cheeses, diced

80g Frozen peas

80g Pickles or cornichons, well drained and diced

Salt & pepper to taste

4 tbsp of mayonnaise (or 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil).

Optional ingredients:

75g yellow bell pepper, diced

75g red bell pepper, diced

150g flesh of fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced.

2 hard boiled eggs, cubed.

Vienna sausages



Start by boiling 2 litres of water with 16g of salt.

Cook the peas in the water for 3 minutes then fish them out and transfer them into a bowl with cold water. Save the boiling water for the rice.

Add the rice to boiling water and cook until barely al dente, drain well and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and remove excess starch.

Leave in the colander to drain all excess water.

In a large bowl start by mixing the rice with the mayonnaise or the oil, then add all other ingredients except for the tuna, that should not be over-mixed or it'll be shredded into small pieces.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add the tuna, mix in briefly, then cover the bowl with plastic film and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.


This rice salad has a 2 days shelf life if refrigerated. It should be kept in a cooler if brought to a picnic or to the beach. Don't save leftovers that have been kept at room temperature for more than 1 hour.