Orzo Pasta Salad.

30 July 2012

This is hands down Dave’s favorite summer dish.  I made it the first time for his birthday five years ago and it quickly became a family favorite.  Each time I make it, someone asks for the recipe.  It is definitely one of those dishes that having never tasted it, you might find it odd, but trust me it just works.  It has a little bit of everything, sweet cherries, a peppery punch from the fresh basil, a subtle nuttiness from the pine nuts, saltiness from the feta, and a light lemony brightness.  I love it because I can make it ahead of time AND it can be served for outdoor/hot weather potlucks. 

Perfect for summer. 

I never really measure ingredients for this, but I did this time and apparently, I should just call this “quarter cup Orzo” since it is all in quarter cup measurements.  Bonus, it’s easy to remember!

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You will need:

  • 8 ounces of Orzo pasta {half a package}
  • salt for pasta water  
  • handful of pine nuts, toasted {approximately 1/4 cup}
  • handful of dried cherries, chopped {approximately 1/4 cup}
  • zest and juice of one lemon {approximately 1/4 cup of juice}
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • fresh basil
  • salt + pepper or seasoning blend, to taste
  • feta cheese {yep… 1/4 cup}

Salt the water and set to boil.  Add half a package of Orzo pasta and cook pasta slightly longer {a minute or two} than the directions on the pasta.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  I use a fine mesh strainer because the pasta is small, but you can use any pasta strainer.

While the pasta is boiling, lightly toast the pine nuts in a pan.  Shake the pan often and don’t leave them unattended.  You will burn the hell out of them… not that I would know that from experience or anything. Ahem.  Allow to cool.

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Zest the lemon. I just use a small grater and give it a quick once over.  Then use a citrus juicer and squeeze the juice out, reserve.

Chop the cherries.  Chiffonade the basil. {This just a fancy pants way of saying you roll it up and slice thinly.  It makes these thin ribbons of basil.} 

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Pour the pasta into a bowl and add lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Mix.  Add pine nuts, dried cherries, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.  I usually shake on a seasoning blend instead.  {I love the Kick N’ Chicken from Weber, a lemon pepper blend, or a veggie blend.} 

At this point, you can cover and throw it in the fridge until you are ready to eat.  I think it just tastes better when it has had an hour or two for the flavors to come together, but you can certainly just eat it right away too.

When you are ready to serve, add the feta cheese and give it all a quick stir.

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6 comments:

Mommy Lisa said...

I love good orzo recipes.

Megan Hemphill said...

Michelle, this sounds amazing. I am going to make it this week! And that's a promise to myself.

Bunny @ 86n It said...

I can vouch for this. It is delish!

Amber Holcomb said...

mmhmm yum, I'm all over this! Dinner anyone?

Karen said...

I just left this recipe on another blog, because it is seriously one of my favorites! Anyways, thought I would share the recipe from her blog, too! Also, love how you have the pictures to all your recipes - it really makes it so much easier to find what I'm looking for :O) Happy 4th!
http://www.thegardengrazer.com/2012/10/mexican-quinoa-salad.html?showComment=1372857962130#c201247567054529173

Noelle said...

Making this today!

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