Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

I have a dish for you that is sure to emit summer vibes!  What else says summer than a cold pasta salad with a citrus-feta vinaigrette and colorful veggies?  That’s what this orzo salad is all about.  My husband and I needed a healthy dinner because our summer hasn’t been full of what should be “healthy summer eating”.  Therefore, I wanted to make something light but filling. 

This orzo salad is chock full of veggies and would be even healthier if you used whole-wheat orzo.  However, I couldn’t find it at my grocery store.  I will definitely be making it again when I find some.  On the side we had lemon-pepper grilled chicken with corn on the cob.  It made for a deliciously vibrant and guilt-free meal that is sure to be on the rotation!

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

1 ½ c uncooked orzo
2 ½ c baby spinach, chopped
½ c sun-dried tomato julienne strips, chopped and drained
¼ c chopped red onion
3 oz marinated artichoke hearts, chopped and drained (or more if desired)
2 baby cucumbers, cut into thin slices
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper
¼ c extra-virgin olive oil
¼ c fresh lemon juice
¼ c feta cheese, plus additional for topping
1 tsp herbs de Provence

Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain, rinse with cold water.  Combine orzo, spinach, tomatoes, onion, artichoke hearts, and cucumbers in a large bowl.   Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Stir and then set aside.

Tip: Rinsing pasta immediately with cold water stops the cooking process and allows it to remain al dente.  If you continue to let it steam it will continue to cook.

For the feta vinaigrette, combine olive oil, lemon juice, feta cheese and herbs de Provence in a small glass bowl.  Whisk to emulsify. 

Kitchen tool: I have a salad dressing decanter that I use all of the time for homemade salad dressings.  I just pour all of the ingredients in the decanter, shake them to emulsify (instead of whisking) and then pour it directly on my salad.  The decanter has little spouts and a rubber stopper that makes it the perfect all-in-one tool.

Add about half of the vinaigrette to the orzo mixture.  Taste.  Add more dressing and salt and pepper to taste.  Top orzo salad with additional feta and stir in (optional).

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