Orzo shines in this tasty cold salad
If we cannot travel to the warm waters of the Mediterranean this summer, we may as well bring the Mediterranean to the table. I know, not at all the same … but one can dream!
“In Italy, they add work and life on to food and wine.” — Robin Leach
One of my most favourite summer salads is a Mediterranean orzo salad. It is a salad chinched full of flavour as it captures all of the essence of a Mediterranean meal.
The first time I had this salad was also the first time I was introduced to orzo. Not gonna lie, it is probably the orzo that draws me back every time. It may look like rice but it’s all pasta, baby. An Italian short-cut pasta, to be precise. The only similarity it has to rice is the size.
This salad looks darker than it typically does when I make it. That’s because I could only find tuxedo orzo in the store which, as I’m sure you already know, involves black and white orzo pieces. Normally, I would make it with all white orzo, which brings a light summery look. It doesn’t change the flavour but presents a darker finished look. However, having a mix works given the other ingredients add lots of colour. Orzo is a light, fresh pasta when served as a cold salad. I know, right — light pasta. Yes, there is such a thing.
“Pasta doesn’t make you fat. How much pasta you eat makes you fat.” — Giada De Launtentis
You can make so many recipes with orzo. Although the recipe I am talking about today is served cold, you can also serve orzo in hot dishes.
So true. I will warn you, this recipe will make it difficult to refuse when asked if you’d like seconds.
You can make so many recipes with orzo. Although the recipe I am talking about today is served cold, you can also serve orzo in hot dishes. You can make creamy garlic parmesan orzo, spinach parmesan orzo, turkey sausage and kale orzo, beef and orzo skillet. You can even put it in soup. Actually, it would be delicious in a turkey soup – yum!
Back to today’s recipe. You’ll require the following ingredients: two cups of orzo, a quarter cup of lemon juice, a quarter cup of olive oil, a quarter teaspoon of honey, half teaspoon of both salt and pepper, one pinch of oregano, one red pepper, one cup of cucumber, three-quarters of a cup of feta cheese, one-third cup of chopped olives, one-third cup of sun-dried tomatoes, one-third cup of parsley and a quarter-cup of red onion.
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” — Frederico Fellini
Boil the orzo in six cups of water for about 10 minutes. I prefer mine al dente rather than fully cooked. Orzo can get mushy fast, which is the worst result for pasta so make sure you keep a close eye on it as it boils. Do a few taste tests along the way. As your pasta boils, prepare the rest of your ingredients. For the most part, they’ll all need to be finely chopped.
In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Once that is complete, add all the other ingredients and stir it up. Cover and put in the fridge for up to 24 hours to let flavours mingle. Voila! Easy-peasy, right? Right.
“To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.” — George Ellwanger
Mediterranean orzo salad is a great meal on its own — no extras needed. If you would rather use it as a side, you can add poached chicken to your plate. You spent enough time making the salad, may as well keep it simple. Remember, simple doesn’t mean anything has to lack flavour. Actually, poached chicken could be a column all on its own. I am seriously marking that down on my “Fit to eat to-do list.”
If you want to check out the full recipe, I found this one on canadianliving.com. If your tastebuds desire orzo salad but you’re not sold on the rest of the ingredients, do a quick Google search. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the options.
Now that your menu is sorted, it’s time to break out your colourful dishware and set the patio table for a Mediterranean night at home. Enjoy to the fullest!
Erin Sulley is a self-confessed foodie who lives in Mount Pearl. Email [email protected] Twitter: @ErinSulley Instagram: @erinsulley