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Orzo Salad

August 23, 2011

I’ve been experimenting quite a bit with orzo lately, since I pretty much failed to realize that it existed before now. Man, was I missing out! I love playing with pairing pasta shapes to the dish and orzo really rounds out the collection. I don’t think I would use it for many traditional pasta dishes (it would make a pretty strange tomato sauce or alfredo base) but for some things, it’s just perfect.

This orzo salad is a great new go-to recipe for the summer picnic and won’t overlap awkwardly with any other pasta salads that might appear at a potluck! The lemon and basil are so light that it’s hard to remember that this really is a big plate of pasta and really ought to be paired with another salad or vegetable if you’re using this as your main dish. Or, just give it up and serve with fresh bread – amazing!

Orzo Salad
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake’s Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Citrus Dressing

1 cup orzo, cooked until al dente (don’t overcook!) then rinsed with cold water until cool
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, diced
1 roasted red pepper (see below)
1/3 of a cucumber, diced very finely
zest and juice from one lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
6 leaves of basil, ribboned or torn

For the roasted red pepper, turn up your oven high (450-500) and roast the whole pepper on a metal dish (try to use one you don’t care about very much because it will leave marks on the pan). Turn the pepper when the bottom begins to blacken. Immediately after removing from the oven, place in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge. This will allow the pepper to cool for your salad, while wilting it slightly so you can remove the skin. Once just cool, remove from the bag, peel off the skin and dice.

Combine all ingredients, making sure you add the basil at the last minute. I tossed the orzo in the lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper before adding the other ingredients so that the pasta would take in the flavour.

I garnished the top with half the pine nuts and a few small basil leaves and this turned out to be a big hit at lunch with my friends. It never hurts to have a garnish, I think, even if you’re just cooking for yourself!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2011 6:46 pm

    I can attest to the delicious nature of this salad. I’d suggest doubling, nay, tripling the basil, but that’s just me.

    • August 24, 2011 5:08 pm

      Perhaps my basil plant isn’t really as leafy and abundant as I suggested! Though I see from Google+ that yours isn’t doing so well either :(

      Next year I’ll have to grow one (or two!) more pots so I can herb all my foods to the fullest extent.

  2. August 24, 2011 9:08 am

    I’m so glad you’ve become a fan of Rebecca Crump’s culinary exploits! Try the roasted zucchini pasta salad; it’s divine.

    • August 24, 2011 5:10 pm

      Oh, I know – it looks amazing!! You’ve made it?

      I love her blog so much.

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