insalata di riso nero: black rice salad

We had a first impression experience one Ferragosto holiday in Rome, August 15. The city practically shuts down in a national holiday when many locals are already vacationiing in the traditional August period and those who remain at least exit the city for the day. We found this little lunch early supper delicatessen a few blocks from our summer rental apartment, and tried several memorable rice/pasta salads, one of which was a black rice with baby shrimps. Many years later we are spontaneously invited to a dinner party on a rooftop terrace overlooking the park in front of our local piazza, by our inherited landlady after her cousin passed away earlier that year leaving her properties behind. We don't get to take anything with us in our final exit. But in contrast with the child woman we had gotten to know over a decade of her sorrows and eventual decline of old age, Ornella was a delightful lady about a decade ahead of e in the age game but still very much alive.

At her rooftop dinner party attended by an eclectic group of well-to do Romans who welcomed us warmly, Ornella had thrown together a black rice and strawberry salad that we really liked, so much so that we attempted our own version shortly afterwards at "home" across the piazza. There is no secret recipe, or preferred list of optional ingredients. There are many ways one can go with this from simple to a more complex array of ingredients. The basic idea is to give it an initial try since it is virtually unknown here in the "New World." And the added bonus: black rice is whole grain, very healthy. The down side is you have to boil it 45 minutes and cool it down in ice water for this recipe, but that is just a matter of waiting it out, starting early, say. Can do.

We had some black rice from Whole Foods sitting around for quite some time before the inspiration hit us to be creative. Not sure where in the world it comes from, probably not Northern Italy which supplies our friends in Rome and elsewhere in the boot. Okay, read the box bob. Venere black rice. Authentic stuff it seems.


1 1/2 c black Italian rice
2/3 c chopped (cored) strawberries
1 baby cucumber, diced
2/3 c quartered grape tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
touch of pepperoncino
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped basil
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
drizzled balsamic vinegar..


  1. So cook the rice according to directions. Leave adequate time or do the day before. Drain and cool down if for immediate use, we used some ice water into which we placed our rice strainer.
  2. Saute the chopped onion a bit first in extra virgin olive oil, then with the chopped mushrooms and a touch of pepperoncino, and finish by incorporating the chopped asparagus to coat it with the oil. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Prep the other veggies (and the honorary veggie: strawberries, white cores removed), chopping and dicing, whatever, so they are ready. Wash the arugula if not already triple washed.
  4. Mix in first the sauteeables, then the raw veggies and strawberries and the rest of the stuff.
  5. Adjust the spices, top with a sprinkling of crumbled feta, arrange decorative basil and reserved asparagus tips if you are feeling artistic.
  6. Serve and enjoy.


  1. Memorable Ferragosto lunch: farro salad, red rice salad, black rice salad.
  2. Riseria Campanini, English page for their black rice (riso nero). Perhaps a quote says it best: "An Italian rice with a small, fragrant grain. Its aroma of freshly baked bread is a typical feature of Asian rices. As a whole grain rice, it is not subject to any total-processing. Full of vitamins and minerals, Venere is a high fibre food. Especially recommended for making fish and vegetable dishes."
  3. We gave this another twist later.
  4. Illustrations available.
blackricesalad.htm: 26-nov-2021 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]