When I used to travel in Italy in my fashion life, one of the favorite things my friend Natalia liked to make was rice salad – insalata di riso. It’s one of those easy dishes that you can either make from scratch or guided by our ingredient list, empty whatever is in your fridge or pantry into some leftover brown rice, along with the tomatoes, olives and pickles for flavor. These can include canned or frozen corn, tuna, hard boiled eggs, you name it, it can go in. In Italy they use diced ham – I’ve even seen Vienna cocktail sausages go into this salad – but rather than these processed meats we are using extra firm tofu tossed with a smidgen of smoked paprika instead. Or leave it out entirely – the salad will still be yummy. The main thing is to cut everything small to go with the rice, and use ingredients that aren’t too wet so that the rice doesn’t get soggy. Buon apetito!
- In a small bowl, toss together the smoked paprika if using, olive oil and diced tofu with a sprinkle of salt. Set aside while you prep the vegetables.
- In a salad bowl mix the diced tomatoes, olives, pickles, cheese, red and yellow peppers and peas. Add the chives and toss together. Stir the tofu and oil into the vegetables.
- Mix in the brown rice and toss until all the veggies are well distributed through the rice. Taste for salt. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for an hour for the flavors to blend. The salad will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup firm tofu drained, and cut into a fine dice
- 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, deseeded and diced
- 1/3 cup pitted black olives, drained and diced
- 2 medium dill pickles, drained and cut into a fine dice
- 1/2 cup Jarlsberg cheese diced
- 1/2 large red pepper, seeded and cored and cut into a fine dice
- 1/2 large yellow pepper, seeded cored and cut into a fine dice
- 1/2 cup frozen peas – defrosted
- 1/2 bunch of chives finely scissored (See Ann’s Tips)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
Ann's Tips and Tricks
We’ve used both red and yellow peppers, but that’s mostly to make the salad look pretty. If you only have one of the colors, or a green one, use that.
In the wintertime, use diced grape tomatoes for better flavor. Don’t worry too much about deseeding them – it’s the Roma and Beefsteak tomatoes that have a lot of liquid
You can use diced scallions or minced shallots instead of chives
If you have leftover baked tofu, tempeh, or chicken, dice it and add it in!