Overhead view of Italian style rice salad served on a white plate

Italian-Style Cold Rice Salad

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This Italian style cold rice salad is the perfect crowd-pleasing Mediterranean salad that taste amazingly delicious, packed with healthy fats and protein, and makes a great main dish option as well!

overhead shot of Italian style rice salad served on a white plate

What I love about rice salads is they are not only super filling, but they are also crowd friendly and guests pleasing side dish. We will always make a rice salad as a side dish when we invite guests over for lunch. Rice salads are also great if you are looking for a healthy and balanced meal that’s packed with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. I will have a rice salad after a good workout at the gym as it covers all my nutritional needs and it fills me up as well.

While this recipe may not be an authentic Italian style rice salad, it surely is inspired by one. I’m all about adding a Mediterranean touch to my recipes so I would say that this salad is a combination of a Greek, Moroccan, and Italian style rice salad but it’s definitely more on the Italian side.

overhead shot of Italian style rice salad served on a white plate

What you need to make this Italian style rice salad.

For this salad, you will need to use a combination of cooked ingredients and fresh raw ingredients to make this delicious and wholesome salad.

Ingredients

  • Long grain parboiled rice
  • diced green beans
  • diced potatoes
  • diced tomato
  • diced cucumber
  • sweetcorn
  • canned tuna
  • cut green olives
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • low-fat cream cheese
  • unsweetened natural yogurt
  • salt
  • pepper
Rice salad ingredients in a mixing bowl

How to make Italian style cold rice salad

Prepare rice, green beans, and diced potatoes in advance by cooking them separately until soft and ready for use. You can choose to either boil or steam the green beans and potatoes.

While the raw ingredients are cooking, start preparing the salad drizzle by adding low-fat cream cheese, unsweetened natural yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well until smooth and creamy and store in the fridge for later.

If cooking ingredients are fully cooked and ready for use, transfer to separate plates or draining baskets and let them cool for at least 15 minutes.

Prepare the salad dressing by adding olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a mini jar. Shake well until you reach a thick and well-combined consistency.

In a mixing bowl, add sweetcorn, tuna, olives, cooked diced potatoes, cooked diced green beans, rice, diced tomato, diced cucumber, and salad dressing. Toss everything and well coated.

transfer to a serving plate and drizzle thoroughly with cream cheese salad drizzle.

Serve cold.

closeup view of rice salad with cream cheese salad drizzle on top

Tips on cooking rice for salads

The key to perfectly cook rice for salads is to not let it cook for a long time as we don’t want a mushy or sticky texture. It is important for the rice grains to stay firm and separated.

The first step is you want to make sure that you wash the rice very well to get rid of the excess starch. Place in a large saucepot and add cold water, double the amount of rice. For instance, if you are cooking one cup of rice, add two cups of cold water. Set on high heat and lower the heat when the water starts to simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. To ensure if the rice is ready, test with a fork. The grains should be soft but also firm. Turn off the heat when it’s fully cooked and set for 4 minutes with the lid on.

Finally, transfer to a plate and let the rice cool down.

overhead shot of Italian style rice salad served on a white plate

What rice to use for this salad?

For this recipe, I used long grain Parboiled rice. Basmati rice is also a great choice and both types will work for any rice salad recipe!

Storing tips

This rice salad will stay good for three days at maximum, in the fridge stored in an airtight container. We don’t recommend keeping it for more than three days as the taste will not remain as good.

Other salad recipes you may want to try.
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overhead shot of cold rice salad served on a white plate

Italian-Style Cold Rice Salad

zakriti.raouda
Italian style cold rice salad with a delicious cream cheese salad drizzle, tuna, and Mediterranean olives.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 4
Calories 479 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 200 grams (1 cup) long grain parboiled rice uncooked
  • 1 potato large size, diced into mini cubes
  • 150 grams (1 cup) green beans diced, uncooked
  • 100 grams (1 cup) sweetcorn canned
  • 1 can tuna soaked in water or olive oil
  • 1 tomato medium size, diced
  • 1 cucumber medium size, diced
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) green olives cut/sliced

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Salad drizzle

  • 3 tbsp yogurt natural, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese low fat
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions
 

  • Start preparing rice, diced potatoes, and green beans by cooking them separately until soft and ready for use.
  • While rice, diced potatoes, and green beans are cooking, prepare the salad drizzle by adding yogurt, cream cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a mini mixing bowl. Combine the ingredients well until creamy and smooth and store in the fridge for later.
  • If the rice, potatoes, and green beans are fully cooked, transfer the ingredients separately to a plate and let them cool for at least 15 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, add sweetcorn, tuna, green olives, diced tomato, diced cucumber, rice, cooked potatoes, and green beans. Set aside and prepare the dressing.
  • Add the dressing ingredients to a mini bowl or a jar. Whisk very well or shake if in a jar until you reach a thick and well-combined consistency.
  • Add the dressing to the salad ingredients. Toss everything together until well coated.
  • Transfer to a serving plate, drizzle with the cream cheese drizzle and serve immediately or store for later.
Keyword Cold rice salad, Italian salad, Mediterranean salad, Rice salad