Italian Rice Salad with Radicchio, Taleggio Cheese and Olive Vinaigrette


I first started making rice salads a few years ago after reading about the technique in one of Lidia Bastianich's cookbooks. Served at room temperature, they are a nice accompaniment to grilled meat or fish and are a great way to use up leftovers. Rice absorbs lots of flavors, yet the grains always seem to retain their distinct, chewy texture, even when coated with a vinaigrette. I mostly make rice salads in the summer. I often make them with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or with fresh summer vegetables. But I thought that it might be fun to create a rice salad featuring winter vegetables. I love the flavor of radicchio. It seemed assertive enough to stand up to the olive and lemon flavors in this vinaigrette. The method of broiling it is inspired by a recipe created by NYC chef and cook book author Andrew Carmellini. Roasted peppers seemed to nicely compliment the radicchio. While grape tomatoes aren't a winter vegetable per se, I liked the fresh flavor that they added to this winter salad. Normally, I make rice salads with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette or a red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. I decided to try making a dressing using whole olives. I experimented with a few different varieties. Green Cerignola olives look the prettiest (the dressing was a lovely green-golden color), but I preferred the meaty flavor of black Nicoise olives. When I made the vinaigrette, I thought that regular lemons tasted just fine, but Meyer lemons had a more layered nuanced flavor.You could use a sharp firm Italian cheese, such as aged Provolone in this salad, but I liked the creamy texture and fruity flavor of Taleggio cheese.

What you will need

1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice (or other Italian short or medium grain rice)

8 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 small onion (peeled but not chopped)

2 sprigs fresh parsley

1 small head radicchio

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 large bell peppers (I used a yellow and an orange one)

1/2 cup Taleggio cheese, diced

1/4 cup good quality olives (see headnote)

1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

10 small grape tomatoes (quartered)

1/2 cup good quality green or black olives, pitted

2 teaspoons shallots, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped

2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons, if Meyers aren't available)

1 anchovy

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


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