Los Angeles-based, Italian-born cookbook author Alice Carbone Tench shares her most intimate challenges with eating disorders and alcoholism in her new Italian vegetarian cookbook and memoir Eating Again: The Recipes That Healed Me. Tench became bulimic as a teenager in Italy, and she struggled with eating disorders, alcoholism, and addiction from then on. When she moved to LA, married, and became a mom, she realized she needed help, and her therapist advised her to get back into the kitchen and cook.
Her cookbook features recipes from her grandmother and mother that brought her back to her childhood in the foothills of the Italian Alps and helped her heal from her trauma. Each new recipe reconnected her to her roots, and she uncovered her love of food and eating again.
She is also the wife of Benmont Tench, founding member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Together, they go live each Monday in the IG cooking show Instagram to Table.
Here she shares one of her favorites, Madri’s Rice Salad, inspired by her grandmother. “This is another classic my grandmother would make weekly,” says Tench. “The only ingredient I changed from the original recipe is Vienna sausages. This dish is the perfect summer recipe to take over to a friend for a lunch on the patio—it’s the perfect dish for a hot summer night when the last thing you want to do is cook—it makes a beautiful leftover. And it can also be made in advance. In fact, the rice must be at room temperature when assembling the dish. One more fact: kids love to decorate it and add all the ingredients.”
MADRI’S RICE SALAD (INSALATA DI RISO)
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Passive time: 30 to 40 minutes to cool down
- 20 to 30 black olives, pitted
- 2 tomatoes
- 5.3 oz. Emmenthal
- 7 artichoke hearts in extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp. capers
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup of cocktail onions
- 2 cups of basmati rice
- 4 cornichons
- ¼ cup of baby corn
- ¼ cup of petit green peas
- 1½ cans of Italian tuna in extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon (zest and juice)
- 1 tbsp. of mayonnaise and 1 tbsp. of Dijon mustard (optional)
- 2 tbsp. of fresh dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the eggs:
- Place the eggs in a saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 9 minutes. Remove the eggs and allow to cool down.
For the rice:
- Cook rice in salted, boiling water.
- When rice has cooked, drain in a colander, running cold water over the rice to cool it. This passage will prevent rice from overcooking.
When the rice has reach room temperature, place in a large salad bowl, and add some extra-virgin olive oil to prevent it from sticking. Set aside.
For the salad:
- On a cutting board, dice Emmental into small bite-size cubes, do the same with the tomatoes and baby corn. Add to the rice.
- Cut black olives in quarters, dice the artichokes, onions, and the cornichons, then add to the salad as well.
- Drain the tuna from the can and break it into flakes. Add to rice.
- Add the green peas (previously thawed), fresh dill, salt, freshly ground black pepper, the juice of half a lemon, and more olive oil.
- Gently toss the rice salad and taste. You may need more lemon juice or more oil to taste.
- Add the eggs (that you have peeled and cut in quarters) on top of the salad to form the rays of a sun as a decoration.
- Allow the salad to chill and marinate for three to four hours, then serve.
You can keep this salad in the fridge for up to three days.