All this talk of summer coming to a close and autumn nearly being upon us? Rubbish! It’s barely past mid-August and already everyone’s in a tizzy over warm, comfort food and hoodies and pumpkin cookies and plaid backpacks.
Not that I have anything against those things, but all I’m saying is: bring on the simple summer meals while I still can. Know what I mean? Of course, I do happen to live in the land where winter-lasts-for-nine-months so you can’t blame me too harshly for hanging on to the warmth and all that comes with it as long as I can. I’ll probably still be wearing flip flops come November.
This light and refreshing orzo salad is the perfect summer dinner to me. I served it alongside one of our favorite marinated and grilled chicken recipes and the combination was absolutely killer.
The flavors are amazing – everything from fresh tomatoes to creamy feta. Fragrant basil to toasted pine nuts. It’s salads like this that make me forget to act like a lady (you know, racing everyone for the last remnants in the bowl and maybe, but not officially confirmed, throwing an elbow while I’m at it). A perfect way to use up those garden fresh tomatoes, this salad is packed with all the flavors I love. Plus, it’s really simple to make and tastes (and looks!) like a million bucks. That’s a winner in my book. Long live summer meals! (Thanks, Jennifer, for the recipe!)
This salad, if refrigerated longer than an hour, will get a bit dry so if you want to make it in advance, consider increasing the dressing ingredients by half and reserving some of that dressing to pour over the salad right before serving (also, wait to add pine nuts right before serving).
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 12 ounces orzo pasta
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 tablespoons thinly sliced chives or green onions
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup arugula or baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted (heat them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often until golden)
- For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and oil. Season to taste with a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.
- For the salad, cook the orzo in the chicken broth until tender according to package directions. Drain well but do not rinse. Let the pasta cool to room temperature, tossing often so it doesn't stick together (stir in 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing if the pasta is overly sticky). Toss the cooled pasta with the tomatoes, chives or green onions, basil, and arugula or spinach.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle the feta and pine nuts over the top and toss lightly. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Jennifer J., an awesome MKC reader who sent me some fabulous recipes (decreased olive oil by a bit, altered orzo amounts so it wasn’t too heavy on the noodles, and a few other minor changes) – thanks, Jennifer!