I didn’t even know about Orzo until about 4 years ago. I didn’t know pasta come looking like fat rice. And I haven’t made a pasta salad for some years now. Though when I first found Orzo, or Risoni, I made a pasta salad quite often during summer. Actually I never found Orzo at the supermarket, only Risoni. But the Mediterranean Food Company has several brands as I recently discovered.
Anyway, in my new found quest to better my lunch-time meal I decided to make a tasty pasta salad.
This isn’t the recipe I once used, though there was nothing wrong with that one. I just couldn’t find it.
I made several changes to the following recipe, which I’ve outlined in “My Notes”.
- 1 (1-pound) package Orzo Pasta
- 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
- 6 ounces Greek Feta cheese, roughly crumbled
- 1/2 cup Calamata olives pitted, halved
- 4 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 (13.75-ounce) can Quartered Artichokes hearts, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped tarragon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, then add the orzo pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Toast the pine nuts by heating a small skillet on medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir occasionally until the pine nuts are lightly browned.
Take half of the spinach and purée it in a food processor or blender, adding one tablespoon of the olive oil. Roughly chop the other half of the spinach.
In a large bowl, mix the spinach purée with the cooked orzo until the pasta is well coated with the purée. Then gently mix in the chopped spinach, artichokes, red onion, feta cheese, pine nuts, and the Calamata olives.
In a separate small mixing bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, mustard, basil, and tarragon. Slowly whisk in the remaining olive oil until the dressing combines and thickens. Pour dressing over pasta salad and gently mix in until well incorporated. Place the salad in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes before serving.
255gm Risoni or Orzo
1/2 a 130gm bag of packaged Spinach
25gm Parmesan Cheese, grated, in place of Feta cheese
100gm Sundried tomatos, drained
Add the sundried tomatos to the food processor and process about 10 seconds. Add half of the 65gm spinach and process until the spinach is pureed. The tomatos will be in small bits but not pureed. Add the drained oil from the sundried tomatos and give the food processor a few pulses.
I’ve never had Artichoke, and I’ve still never had it. I left this out of the recipe.
I made the dressing as above but it wasn’t to my liking, so I didn’t add it to the salad.
I managed to get 5 zip lock bags of around 170gm of salad. Plenty for lunch, in fact it fills a dinner plate.
I love sundried tomatos, but not olives so I was happy to swap a few things. So feel free to add your own touches too.
This salad would also work heated up, in case you get a cold day and prefer something warmer for lunch, or as a side dish to your evening meal.