Every once in a while inspiration strikes when you least expect it. I was going through a bunch of recipes I had bookmarked on the Bumble Bee website when I received an email from Tasting Table, one of the many food related email subscriptions I have.
While there are plenty of great recipes available from Bumble Bee, some of which I’ll surely be sharing in the future, I was taken by the Insalata di Riso recipe that Tasting Table shared from Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint in New Orleans. In the past I’ve made rice based salads, but this one in particular caught my attention because one of the proteins was oil packed tuna – by far my favorite canned tuna product.
In creating my own version of the Insalata di Riso I made a few changes based on taste preferences and others based on what I had on hand. The biggest differences were the substitution of soppressata for mortadella and exchanging ricotta salata for the emmenthaler. In making my changes I did my best to stay within the spirit of the original taking into consideration the different flavors and textures each element brought to the dish.
The resulting dish brought a tangy, saltiness from the ricotta salata, sweetness from the sherry vinegar and fresh corn, crunch from the toasted pine nuts, and, of course, a touch of heat from the black pepper and jalapenos. At first I was concerned the tuna would get lost amongst all the elements, but the flavor of the fish came through in nearly every bite.
What really brought the whole thing together was the lemon and the balance the acidity provided among the various elements. Initially I used half of the lemon juice the original recipe called for and through tasting and adjusting I ended up using all of it.
The final departure that I took from my inspiration was I didn’t refrigerate it before serving it. Personally, I’m just not a fan of cold rice salads and I don’t think anything was lost by serving this at room temperature.
If you’re looking for a new way to try tuna, then this Insalata di Riso provides a great opportunity, as it can be served for lunch, a light dinner, or as a side item. It is even a great option to bring to a cookout or a pot luck since it holds well unrefrigerated.
Insalata di Riso
adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 oz sopressata, cut into 1/4″ cubes
- 4 oz ricotta salata, coarsely shredded
- 1 can Bumble Bee olive oil packed tuna
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup shelled edamame
- Kernels from one ear of fresh corn
- 1 jalapeno, finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (reserve 1/2 tablespoon for garnish)
- Zest of two lemons
- Juice of one lemon
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 head Boston/Bibb lettuce
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, at least 4 quarts, and cook the rice until al dente (approximately 12-13 minutes)
- Drain rice, and transfer to a large mixing bowl, add sherry vinegar and rice
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread rice out to cool
- Transfer cooled rice back to large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients up to the lemon juice; season with black pepper
- Toss to combine, then taste; season with kosher salt, if necessary
- Add half the lemon juice and taste, adjust seasoning by adding more lemon juice (if necessary), salt or pepper
- Refrigerate before serving, if desired
- To serve, place Boston lettuce leaves on a plate and spoon the insalata into the cups, garnish with reserved parsley
Disclosure: As part of the Bee Squad I receive product information and samples and Bumble Bee is sponsoring my attendance at the Type A Parent conference. I was not compensated in any other way, nor was I offered or promised anything else in exchange or my review of their products, recipes or BeeWell For Life program. All opinions contained herein are my own.