Aug 122013

Italian Tuna & Rice Salad + Donnafugata Anthìlia

Think of this rice salad as a lighter, summertime version of a classic pasta puttanesca — minus the tomatoes. (Though tomatoes — or sundried tomatoes — would be a delicious addition.) It’s anchovies, capers and black olives, and a dash of peppery heat — all those flavors that I love so much on pasta. Plus I bulked it up with some good quality jarred tuna in olive oil to make it more of a one-dish meal. The rice you see in the photo is a lovely heirloom red rice that I picked up somewhere recently (totally my version of an impulse buy), but you can easily substitute with your favorite brown or white long grain rice. I would also like this salad with wild rice, come to think of it. It keeps well in the fridge for several days — in fact, the flavors develop nicely if given a chance. But do try to bring it back to room temperature before serving to really get the most flavor bang for your buck.

Pairing: Donnafugata 2012 Anthilia

If I had to select a house white for this summer, it would surely be this Donnafugata 2012 Anthilia. For a few weeks in early summer, I couldn’t keep up with the demand around here, picking up several bottles a week that seemed to vanish in a flash. This light, crisp, dry, flavorful white is a blend of Catarratto and other grapes indigenous to Sicily. With pretty floral notes accenting crisp citrus and dry, stony mineral flavors, it’s a versatile wine for summertime fare. I think the suggested retail price is around $18, but it’s been a featured wine at my local Whole Foods, selling there for $15-ish. Find it!

Recipe: Italian Tuna & Rice Salad

5 cups cooked and cooled long grain rice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or other hot pepper sauce
2 anchovy fillets
1/4 pound mozzarella di bufala, cubed
3 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup pitted black Cerignola olives, or other black olive of your choice
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup capers
6 or 7 ounces good quality oil-packed tuna, drained and crumbled
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas, blanched
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients except the rice in a large serving bowl. Fold in the rice, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve! (If making ahead, stash in the fridge — but ideally, let it come back to room temperature before serving.) Serves 4.

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