I always associate Rice Salad with summer in Rome. Even when it’s sweltering and your appetite is wilted, this refreshing dish will revive it.
Please look at this recipe as only a guideline. Rice salad is the type of preparation, like pasta, that is totally open to improvisation. Vary it throughout the season with whatever vegetables are ripe. For instance, use chopped tomatoes instead of roasted bell pepper. And, if you have leftover cooked rice on hand, the dish takes only minutes to create.
You can serve it as is for a main-dish for a luncheon. Or, toss in 1 to 2 cups of drained tuna fish, cooked shrimp, or sliced cooked Italian sausage, for a more substantial salad.
As a side with dinner, serve with grilled meats, poultry, seafood, or vegetables.
Summer Rice Salad
Serves 8 to 10
2 cups medium or long-grain rice
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 medium-large sweet or red onion, chopped
5 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 ribs of celery hearts, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet pea pods or frozen baby peas, rinsed
1/2 cup shredded Provolone, Swiss Gruyère, Parmesan, Tuscan Pecorino, or Spanish Manchego cheese
1 roasted red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons drained capers or slivered green or black olives
Ground black pepper
In a large pot, combine the rice, broth, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat so medium-low so rice simmers. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes.
Coat a large tray with no-stick spray. With a fork spread the rice on a large tray. Stir occasionally to speed cooling.
In a small bowl, combine the onion, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and enough cold water to cover. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
In a large bowl, whisk 1/3 cup oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the celery, peas, cheese, pepper, capers or olives, and rice. Toss to mix. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill.
To serve, drain and rinse the onions. Add to the salad. Season to taste with black pepper. Toss the salad. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and vinegar if needed.
Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for several hours. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.