Italian Tuna and Brown Rice Salad (Riso e Tonno)

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Italian tuna and brown rice salad (Riso e Tonno) is wonderful, easy lunch using basic pantry items such as tuna, brown rice, capers and good quality chopped olives plus some frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice.

Italian tuna and brown rice salad is wonderful, easy lunch using basic pantry items such as tuna, brown rice, capers and good quality chopped olives plus some frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice.Italian Tuna Brown Rice Salad (Riso e Tonno)

You can create this easy, make-ahead, healthy salad loaded with flavor for lunch, meal prep or lunch on the go! And if you want a delicious tuna sandwich instead, try this Tuna Melt. More tuna salad recipes you may like are Chickpea Tuna Salad, Tuna Salad Wraps and Mayo-less Tuna Macaroni Salad.

Italian tuna and brown rice salad is wonderful, easy lunch using basic pantry items such as tuna, brown rice, capers and good quality chopped olives plus some frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice.

The inspiration for this recipe is a can of Rio Mare Italian Riso e Tonno someone brought back from Italy. The flavors are SO good so I set out to replicate the same exact flavor using brown rice instead.

Believe it or not, it took me a few attempts to get it JUST right. Here’s what I did – first attempt using a plain can of albacore tuna packed in water with canned black olives and all the other ingredients listed below. It was pretty dry and lacked the flavor I was trying to match. I went back to the store and picked up some canned Italian tuna packed in olive oil (I was adding oil to the salad anyway) and good quality olives. Tonno Genova was the brand of tuna I bought, it’s a little pricier than regular tuna but not by much. Each can cost me three dollars and was available in my local supermarket. It’s also available in Costco, Walmart, or buy it by the case on Amazon (affil link). Amazing the difference it makes in flavor and it wasn’t dry at all.

Tips for Brown Rice Tuna Salad:

  • I drained the tuna really well and reserved some of the olive oil to add to my salad – winner!
  • As a test, I left one refrigerated in a jar overnight to take to the beach. The next day I had it for lunch and thought it tasted even better! The flavors had a chance to meld.
  • So for those of you who are going to ask me can you use canned tuna packed in water or canned black olives – the answer is yes, but it won’t taste as good as my final recipe. Up to you!

 

Italian tuna and brown rice salad is wonderful, easy lunch using basic pantry items such as tuna, brown rice, capers and good quality chopped olives plus some frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice.
Italian tuna and brown rice salad is wonderful, easy lunch using basic pantry items such as tuna, brown rice, capers and good quality chopped olives plus some frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice.
Italian tuna and brown rice salad is wonderful, easy lunch using basic pantry items such as tuna, brown rice, capers and good quality chopped olives plus some frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice.
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4.72 from 7 votes
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Italian Tuna and Brown Rice Salad (Riso e Tonno)

4
5
3
SP
232 Cals 20 Protein 21 Carbs 8 Fats
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Yield: 4 servings
COURSE: Lunch, Salad
CUISINE: Italian
Italian tuna and brown rice salad is wonderful, easy lunch using basic pantry items such as tuna, brown rice, capers and good quality chopped olives plus some frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans, 4 oz each drained Italian premium yellowfin canned tuna in oil, drained
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled brown rice
  • 8 oz frozen classic  mixed vegetables, Bird's Eye cooked and cooled
  • 1/4 cup good quality sliced black olives
  • 2 tbsp drained capers, plus 1 tbsp of the brine
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil, I used from the can

Instructions

  • Drain the tuna well reserving the oil and set the oil aside.
  • In a large work bowl, combine the rice, drained tuna, vegetables, black olives, capers and bell pepper.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of the brine from the capers into the bowl along with the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and toss well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 232kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 259mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 0.5g
Blue Smart Points: 4
Green Smart Points: 5
Purple Smart Points: 3
Points +: 4
Keywords: brown rice salad, Italian Tuna and Brown Rice Salad, italian tuna salad, tuna and rice recipes healthy, tuna fish salad

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67 comments

  1. Just made this simple, clean and super delicious salad! I can already see it becoming a regular for my working mommy schedule. Absolutely yummy! Cannot wait to try it with adding some serranos or jalapeños as some of the other comments have mentioned.

  2. Just made this…followed recipe exactly except for using 10 oz mixed veggies rather than 8. Love the Mediterranean flavors and bright colors. It’s certainly a few steps up from my typical tuna salad! Yummy at room temp; can’t wait to try it cold from fridge.

  3. I’m sure this is going to be a dumb question, but, is this intended to be eaten hot or cold?

  4. I stumbled across this recipe while looking for the poke bowl post. I’m so glad I found it – I love this salad for lunches! I used the Chicken of the Sea lemon/thyme tuna infusions which probably affects the points, but I don’t mind. I also added a jalapeno and bunch of cayenne to give it a little kick.

  5. Really looking forward to making this for lunches this week because I KNOW it’ll be delicious just from the ingredients.  Still, I can’t get anywhere near the calories listed when I run it through my Lose It! app.  I know my olive calories are higher because I’m using kalamatas (in oil), but that doesn’t account for the 140 calories per serving difference. The recipe says two cans of tuna, each 4 oz drained.  Am I reading that right? I’ve got slightly larger cans of Genova Yellowfin in oil (Costco), and they’re 7 oz with a drained weight of 5.51 oz each.  That adds only 3 oz more tuna. With that I can see where I might’ve added approx. 80 cal per serving, but I still don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  Any advice? Thanks.

  6. I made this for take in-work lunches this week. I don’t like taking in green salads so I am very pleased with how much vegetable content is in this meal (I added a little more red capsicum than listed)

    I will definitely make it again, this time adding a lot more olives and capers and maybe some jalapenos as I really like the strong flavours and would like to increase them a little bit.

  7. Excellent recipe. I was looking for rice salad recipe for leftover jasmine rice. Reduced tuna, increased rice. Used a can of Trader Joe albacore tuna in oil, 1 cup of rice, 4 oz mixed veg. (I usually HATE mixed veg, find no taste, but here was great). Used Trader Joe fancy herb marinated  olives, had to pit them. Mistly black , a couple green. Used those tiny mixed color sweet  peppers. Green, red, yellow, orange. Served over iceberg lettuce torn up. Made extra dressing with more lemon juice and the tuna oil because of thd lettuce.  A little garlic pepper salt and black pepper. To die for. And this is only FIRST day! 🙂 Thsnks!!!

  8. I wanted to give this recipe some summer love.  Since I had fresh veggies on hand, I boiled a pot of water, snapped some green beans and started those cooking, then peeled and sliced carrots and added them to the pot, and finally husked an ear of corn and added it to the pot and let the whole thing go 10 min more. If you do it in that order everything is ready at once! Delicious!!

  9. Pingback: Skinny Hot + Cold Chicken Brown Rice Bowl

  10. I made this as directed but added baby spinach and kale and a little extra olive oil. Soo good!

  11. I entered this into the recipe builder on the WW site and it comes up with 6pt+ at 4 servings. Still…sounds good and I think hubby will like it!

  12. this was fantastic! wasn't expecting it to be this good, just looking for a healthy filling lunch.

  13. Loved this! I'm not fond of mixed veggies so I just used peas. Doubled the red bell pepper and added chopped, cherry tomatoes. I'll probably add scallions and switch to green olives for the next batch. The lemon juice was the perfect touch.

  14. Made this last night and had it for lunch today! So good! Thanks, Gina!

  15. Mouth watering! Headed to the grocery now to pick up ingredients….does anyone have a good substitute suggestion for the capers……which I can't stand….sorry. What about drained and rinsed black beans?

    • Olives

    • My first time with capers (had to search online to pick what kind to try) & making a salad with brown rice. Thanks to my new Zojurushi for the sprouted Basmati.
      I did follow the recipie but used 1 rice cooker cup of brown rice cooked which is more than a cup. Used the mixed veggies with asparagus too. I tried some and it was delicious…put rest up to chill.

  16. New favorite work lunch! Add in a cucumber and it is even more delicious…

  17. This recipe is delicious! I'm eating it right now as I type this. Great flavor! I omitted the red peppers because I don't like them, but other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.

  18. This is amazing! I made it twice in one week! My husband loves it as well! Y.U.M.!

  19. I made this last night with Farro instead of brown rice and it was delicious! I also used regular canned tuna instead of the fancy stuff, and it may not have tasted as decadent, but it was very good nonetheless! Thanks for another wonderful recipe Gina!

  20. I like salad, but I do not know how to make it.

  21. What kind of olives and what kind of brown rice? Do you use the brown rice that takes 50 minutes to cook or the quick cook stuff? I believe they have different NI.

    -Angela

  22. As I do not live in the states, I find some of the costs for this prohibitive. One can of Italian tuna, and not 4oz worth, costs $9.60 US. Will try with what is available at a more reasonable price. I believe it will taste good, just not as good.

  23. I just had this tuna for the first time as it was on sale this week at Publix in Florida. It's the best tuna I have ever had

  24. This is delicious! I used a full 12 ounce bag of frozen mixed veggies because that's what I had on hand and I hate partially-full bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer. I feel like I never use them afterward. I simply defrosted it and did not cook it. I also used a bit more red pepper and extra-virgin olive oil than called for, and ended up using almost all the rice I'd cooked (made 1 dry cup of brown rice). With all the veggies, only 1c of cooked rice would've made it a bit anemic. Some fresh chopped parsley was perfect in it. Next time, more parsley and more lemon for my tastes. But a perfect recipe to play with!!!!! I might be eating this all summer when I can't possibly bear to do any real cooking!

  25. Hi, I'm Italian and I can tell you this is exactly how we make it. Only, we wouldn't use so much corn, but I understand it's included in your veggie mix. Another option is to use pickled mixed veggies (giardiniera) instead of frozen, and add slices of Frankfurter sausage and cheese cubes.

  26. This looks really good, I like all the ingredients. Thinking to use thousand island sauce and mustard for dressing, probably not bad. 🙂

  27. Made this last night, it is incredible!! And took @ 15 minutes to make. I used green giant veg mix with white, yellow corn, asparagus, and baby carrots 6 minutes in the microwave. I also used seed of change Brown rice and Quinoa 90 seconds in the microwave. The Italian tuna is incredible not fishy in smell or taste. What a wonderful meal!

  28. How many days in advance can this be made and still be good to eat? What do you use for your good quality black olives? Thanks. This looks delish.

    • This is better if eaten the following day. It can last up to 3-4 days, maybe more… you'll finish it before you discover

  29. What can I add beside bell pepper?(can't eat them)

    • I would try with raw zucchini (sliced thin) or fresh asparagus (the same). You can also try with cucumers. Greeting from Italy 🙂 Fabiola

  30. Well I did the receipe, I did'nt have the olives, et I made 3/4 cup of uncooked rice for 4 person, 1/2 of a Lemond ,and I had just one can of tuna, and it smells great, I'm eating that for lunch tomorow ! Thank you for havin great receipes

  31. Hi Gina ! If I may ask, you wrote 1 cup of coocked rice, and it's for 4 person, and the portion is 1 cup, is it 1 cup of uncooked rice or if so, can you explane please, cause I'm confuse ! I want to do this receipe, but I need the exact portion, thank you , and I love you're receipes !

  32. I also am interested in the olive recommendation. BTW I made my oven roasted chicken thighs for the 4th using your BBQ sauce. YUM! Seriously, yum! Thanks!

  33. Looks delicious and healthy! However, I am not an olive fan…Any suggestions for substitutions or should I just omit them?

  34. I'm also curious what you think of as "good quality" black olives. I'm eager to make this dish, and I, too, really appreciate the taste of good Italian tuna in oil. Love that your recipe is only 4 points! Perfect for lunch. Thank you!

  35. Hi Gina, wondering what brand olives you bought or if you got them in the olive bar? Thanks!

  36. Hi Gina, what brand/type of olives and capers do you prefer? I've been looking for a good brand for a while but I'm never quite happy with what I've tried so far.

  37. That looks terrific. Will be perfect for a picnic next week. As always, thank you!

  38. This looks so tasty and amazing!
    http://youtube.com/addalittlefood

  39. This fits the bill except for the fact I do not like tuna. Do you think you could substitute shredded chicken? I don't know if it would lack the flavor you explained you got from the tuna you used. Thanks.

  40. I don't have any capers on hand, should I use a little more oil or lemon juice for the moisture?

  41. Hi Gina! If I substitute the tuna with chicken, would you just grill and shred it then add it to the other ingredients? Also what would the points + value be with chicken? Thank you!

  42. This looks so good! I need to make it immediately. Noms

  43. SO excited to see this recipe. I used to eat this all the time when I lived in Florence – in fact, McDonald's had this on the menu there! Can't wait to make it!!

  44. Is that 1/2 Tablespoon, as in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons?

  45. It's great that we can just use pantry staples to make this. And the fact we can buy the tuna by the case on Amazon, even better. I mean, these days, we even buy our toilet paper and light bulbs on Amazon and it all just arrives on our doorstep. This is healthy and surprisingly, my kids love tuna! Yay!!

  46. Thanks for sharing all your recipes! Every one I try out is always a hit! You prove that clean eating doesn't have to be bland! Thanks! Keep them coming!

  47. I love that I could keep all of these ingredients on hand for a quick and healthy lunch!

  48. Now that's what I call lunch! Love the new trend of transporting them and serving them up in jars as well, looks so nice and rustic 😀 It's great that you're making that little bit of extra effort with some inexpensive ingredients and turn it into something as nice as this ^ ^ Thanks for sharing! x

  49. Beautiful! I grew up eating so much rice and tuna… I really appreciate the beauty of this recipe. Good job!

  50. I'm so doing this for my Summer lunches at the office. Thanks for the recipe!
    PS: I love your site! I mean it!
    xx,
    E.
    www.theslowpace.com

  51. That looks really good! I'm gonna try out I swear!

  52. That looks delicious! Love the flavors in here. 🙂

  53. I've been searching for easy lunches I can make on Sunday to bring to work all week. This fits the bill except for the fact I do not like tuna. Do you think you could substitute shredded chicken? I don't know if it would lack the flavor you explained you got from the tuna you used. Thanks.

    Love your blog, I cook from it all the time and it helps me stay committed to WW since I don't feel like I am eating "diet food". Cannot wait to get my hands on the cookbook!

    • Thanks Aimee, sure I think chicken would be great. Just add some olive oil to it. Also, I think the key to the flavor was good quality olives, they make the dish!

    • Aimee, do you like canned salmon? I don't like tuna!
      But will probably sub red canned salmon.

  54. This looks great, I have been trying to figure out a new way to make tuna. Perfect work lunch!

  55. Craving this right now!