Pesto Rice Salad

This gutsy, herby salad works as a side dish and can also be served warm as a first course
By Delia Smith
Pesto Rice Salad
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 225 ml arborio risotto rice, measured in a glass measuring jug
  • 450 ml vegetable stock, boiling
  • 1 lemons, juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 leaves basil
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 25 g parmesan, (Parmigiano Reggiano) shavings (made with a potato peeler)
  • 0.5 tsp black pepper

For the pesto sauce

  • 50 g leaves basil
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp pine kernels
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 25 g pecorino cheese, (Pecorino Romano, if available) grated
  • 0.5 tsp salt


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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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