orzo salad

Sunday, June 5, 2011

With the long awaited arrival of spring in Vancouver, I finally get to cook all of my favourite summer things.

Now it's acceptable to bbq everyday, rain or shine, eat ungodly amounts of corn on the cob, look for pretty, ruby red stalks of rhubarb at the farmers market, drink lots of unsweetened ice tea and/or blush wine and make orzo salad.

I've been making this salad for a few years now and have been bringing it to family barbeque's and it's always gotten great reviews. It's also one of those recipes that infinitely adaptable. You can add things, remove things, use quinoa instead of orzo etc etc... It also is a salad that gets better as the days go on. It's great to make at the beginning of the week and have it everyday for lunch.

The fresh, bright tomatoes, with the crunchy green onions, fresh, fragrant basil, cubes of salty feta all mixed together with perfectly al-dente orzo. The dressing is a super light, red wine vinegar base, just enough to give it a little bite but not enough to overpower the fresh basil.

Orzo Salad
[ adapted from Bon Appetit ]

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pound orzo
1 pint small cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 7-ounce container feta cheese, cut in to 1/4-inch cubes
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey. Slowly add olive oil while whisking vigorously. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling add orzo and cook until al-dente, 5 - 6 minutes. Pour pasta into strainer and run cold water on pasta to prevent further cooking. Let strain until all water has been removed, tossing frequently to prevent sticking.

In a large bowl, combine orzo, tomatoes, green onions, basil and feta cheese. Toss to combine. Add red wine vinegar mixture, toss to coat completely.

Cool in refrigerator for at least an hour to let flavours intermingle. Any leftover can be store under plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to a week.