m. c. de marco: The New Kitchen Cookbook

Rice Salad (Insalata di Riso)

This is one of my favorite recipes, but I don’t make it very often because of the variety of cans of stuff required. I adapted it from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden, mainly by upping my favorite ingredients and making others optional.


  • 1 lb. long-grain rice (about 2 ¼ c.)
  • 6 T. olive oil
  • 4 T. white wine vinegar
  • 16 black olives
  • 3 T. capers
  • a small or medium jar of quartered marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 or 2 2 oz. cans of anchovies, chopped
  • 1 or 2 small cans of tuna, preferably preserved in oil, flaked (optional)
  • 16 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if large
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make the rice as usual but in extra water, then drain. Or make it in an Instant Pot.
  2. Dress with liquids and spices while hot.
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients.
  4. Serve hot or cold.


Rice salad is as flexible as risotto, with all the refrigerator-surprise potential of soup. The secret is not to create too much in the way of conflict in your rice salad. For this reason I usually leave out the tuna.

Hard-boiled egg is a good neutral protein, especially if you reserve the yolks for dressing (though this requires mixing it up separately.

Speaking of the dressing, lemon juice, lime juice, and/or mint go well in rice salad. Some people even use mayonnaise.

You can also add half a can or more of a salad bean like cannellini or chickpeas. Optionally, roast the chickpeas.

Frozen peas are also an option, preferably cooked and cooled down, though I’ve seen people recommend just defrosting them.

Replace the cherry tomatoes with chopped whole tomatoes.

Toss in any sort of salad vegetables: cucumber, bell pepper, fennel, firm tofu, etc.

Toss in more little can foods, e.g., marinated mushrooms, canned corn, hot peppers in a jar.

Shredded carrot is a Moroccan favorite.

Pine nuts or pecans are the best, but you can roast walnuts if that’s all you have.

You can add in some decorative rice like wild rice, though these usually take longer to cook. If you’re feeling flush, use arborio rice as the base.

Going in a different direction, feta is probably the best cheese, but you can add mozzarella and other Italian soft cheeses.

Going in yet another direction, hot dogs are an easy meat addition.