Food & Drink

Italian Rice Salad

When Asheville, North Carolina, chef Katie Button opened her elementary-school lunch box, this flavor-packed salad was often waiting inside—a homemade gift from her mother

Photo: Margaret Houston

“My teachers in elementary school were always jealous of my lunch box because of things like this Italian salad my mom used to make,” says chef Katie Button, who was born in South Carolina and now runs Nightbell and Cúrate in Asheville, North Carolina. “It is super-simple and super-flavorful. My own daughter loves olives and those kinds of flavors, and I look forward to making it for her and making her teachers jealous.”


Katie Button at age 14 with her mother, Elizabeth, at Lake Chelan in Washington state.


    • 1 medium onion, diced

    • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided

    • 1 large clove garlic, minced

    • 1 cup long grain white rice

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • ½ tsp. dried thyme

    • ¼ cup dry white wine

    • 2 cups good quality vegetable stock

    • ¼ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes

    • 2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts

    • 1 tbsp. capers

    • 1 cup artichoke hearts, quartered (if covered in oil, lightly rinse off)

    • ¼ cup nicoise olives, pitted and sliced in half lengthwise

    • ¼ cup roasted red peppers, short julienned strips

    • ¼ cup hearts of palm, cut into 1/2-inch rounds

    • 2 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, julienned

    • ½ tsp. lemon zest

    • 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • salt to taste


  1. Make the rice in a risotto style: Sauté onion in 2 tbsp. olive oil until transparent, add garlic, and cook for one minute. Add rice, stir to coat. Add salt, dried thyme, and wine, and cook a few minutes until wine is absorbed. Slowly pour in hot vegetable stock, stirring, and let simmer until rice is cooked.

  2. Pour rice mixture onto a baking sheet to cool.

  3. Combine ingredients from sun-dried tomatoes to basil leaves. Add to room-temperature rice in a large bowl. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, pepper, and salt. Serve at room temperature.

  4. Note: This salad can be made with multiple variations: cooked asparagus, cooked shrimp, diced salami—use your imagination.