Friday, October 28, 2011

Cold Rice Salad

Rice is an extremely versatile grain. One of the more unusual ways of using rice is in a cold salad.

When making the salad, I like to use an Italian style rice. Italian rice is usually a short grain variety of rice, as seen below.

Now, I normally steam my rice. Italians, on the other hand, think rice is pasta and for this reason, they tend to boil their rice.

When preparing rice, using the boiling method, fill a pot with water and season it generously with salt. I also like to add a few drops of olive oil to the mix, as I would with preparing water for pasta.

Bring the liquid to a boil and add the rice. Gently stir intermittently throughout the cooking process.

Rice normally takes about 15 minutes to steam. However, I find that when boiling rice it takes a couple of minutes longer. Just check the rice at around the 15-minute mark to see how much more time it requires.

Italian style rice, as you can see below, is extremely starchy.

Simply drain the water from the rice using a colander. Once drained, run cold water over the rice to stop the cooking process. (This is a cold rice salad. So, you want your rice to be cold.)

Now that you have your cold rice prepared, it is now time to add the other ingredients.

Sliced green olives are a must.

Cooked vegetables also go well. I had some cooked green peas and butternut squash ready, so in it went! Other cooked vegetables also work great. Some ideas can include:
- roasted peppers
- sautéed onions
- cooked mushrooms
- roasted garlic
- steamed/boiled corn
- grilled zucchini

For the protein, I had some left over to tilapia. Under normal circumstances, I would use canned tuna. (Either the "in-oil" or "in-water" varieties work just fine.)

I also like to add fresh vegetables to the mix, for a crunch. I checked my refrigerator and I had some radishes and celery. Other fresh vegetables you could use could include:
- carrots
- bell peppers
- green onions
- fennel

Once you have all of your ingredients in the bowl, it will be time to add the seasonings.

I like to use oregano and dried chili flakes. (The chili flakes can be omitted.) Fresh parsley or cilantro could also be added very easily, instead of oregano. Given that this dish is a salad, I like to dress it with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

Mix up all of the ingredients and you will have a fresh cold rice salad to use as an amazing side dish to any main course.

As this is a cold salad, you can prepare it well in advance. The flavours will actually intensify the longer it sits!

Friday, October 21, 2011


It has been a while since I've had a chance to write. So, by popular demand, I have decided to write about mustazzoli.  Mustazzoli are a type of honey bread/biscuit that have their origins in the southern regions of Italy.

I tried searching for many recipes and they all seemed to have an old world feel. What I mean is that most recipes include directions like "use the amount of flour that is necessary", "make a tough dough" and "bake in a hot oven", for examples.

All of these traditional recipes are rather vague.  In response, I will try to provide you with more quantifiable directions.

First, begin with mixing 1/2 cup miele di fichi and 1/2 cup honey in a bowl. (For directions on how to make your own miele di fichi click here.)

Add two large eggs.

Mix in the liquid ingredients together.

While mixing, slowly add flour to the bowl (1 heaping tablespoon at a time). Once the mixture looks like the consistency of smooth peanut butter, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

Continue mixing and adding flour until you are left with a stiff dough that looks like the picture below.

Place the dough onto a greased, aluminum foil-lined baking tray. 

Using wet hands, form the dough into a flattened log. ( If I were to do this a second time, I would make multiple thin logs, as the mustazzoli would come out smaller.)

Bake the log in a 375°F convection oven for approximately 35 minutes or until it becomes a uniform, medium-brown colour. As the log bakes, you will notice a sweet, honey-like aroma fill in your kitchen.

Whilst still warm, cut the baked logs in to long, thin slices.

Once cooled, your mustazzoli will be ready to eat!

These sweets go great with coffee, tea or even ice cream!

***UPDATE: To view my recipe for gluten-free mustazzoli click here***