Pesto Rice Salad

This salad can be served warm as a first course and it's extremely good as an accompaniment to fish or chicken main course dishes. Served cold it makes a lovely addition to a selection of salads for a buffet. If you can get Pecorino Romano for the pesto it has a more gutsy flavour than Parmesan but, if you can't, Parmesan will do well. Vegetarians might like to know that a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese is available from

Serves 4-6

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and Delia's Vegetarian Collection.

Pesto Rice Salad
For the pesto sauce:
 2 oz (50 g) fresh basil leaves
 1 large clove garlic, crushed
 1 level tablespoon pine nuts
 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 1 oz (25 g) Pecorino Romano, grated
 Italian arborio rice measured to the 8 fl oz (225 ml) level in a glass measuring jug
 16 fl oz (450 ml) boiling vegetable stock
 juice 1 lemon
 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 a few fresh basil leaves
 4 spring onions, finely chopped
 1 oz (25 g) Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) shavings (made with a potato peeler); see recipe introduction
 salt and freshly milled black pepper


To make the pesto sauce, if you have a blender, put in the basil, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil together with some salt and blend until you have a smooth purée.

Then transfer the purée to a bowl and stir in the grated Pecorino cheese. If you don't have a blender, use a large pestle and mortar to pound the basil, garlic and pine nuts to a paste.

Slowly add the salt and cheese, then very gradually add the oil until you have obtained a smooth purée.

Now measure the rice into a glass measuring jug, then add about one quarter of the pesto sauce to it and stir it around to coat all the grains.

Tip the mixture into a shallow saucepan or frying pan with a lid and pour the boiling stock into the jug, then pour this over the rice.

Now turn on the heat and stir with a wooden spoon, adding 1 level teaspoon of salt.

Then, when it begins to boil, put the lid on, turn the heat down to low and let the rice cook for exactly 20 minutes.

As soon as it's ready, tip all the rice into a serving bowl, then simply pour in the lemon juice, olive oil and the remaining pesto sauce.

Combine the ingredients together, stirring and tossing. At this stage taste and season with salt and pepper.

Finally scatter some torn basil leaves, finely chopped spring onion and then some shavings of Parmesan over the surface of the salad as a garnish.

If you want to serve the salad cold, add the basil, onion and Parmesan just before serving.

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