Because I said orzo……

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Mediterranean Orzo Salad

It’s cookout time, which means the endless search for sides has begun. I love my mayo, but sometimes you want something different. I searched the internet for an orzo salad similar to one at a local grocery store. I don’t go there often since they moved things around, including staff. It’s not like home any more. My photo is a little fuzzy because I was dizzy at the thought of sampling….a little more. For any orzo salad, it’s about colors and flavors. The dressing for this recipe makes it special. With the saltiness of the feta and the Kalamata olives, you need some balance, some sweetness. The lemon juice and honey are the perfect harmony of sweet and salty. I used it on a regular green salad the next day. It’s different. It’s fresh tasting. It’s new and improved……it’s got lemon!!! (old marketing major joke…..add lemon for more shelf space).

Enough yapping, let’s make some orzo salad!

12 ounces orzo pasta, cooked, drained and cooled

1 cup red grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup yellow grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup Kalamata olives, halved

1 7-ounce package Feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup chopped green onions

1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 whole red onion, diced-or as much or as little as  you want!

3 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

1 cucumber peeled and diced

Dressing/vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. honey

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Let me just warn you. A whole box of orzo, is A LOT OF ORZO. You may want to reduce it to half of a box, for your first go around. It’s more than plenty, as a side, for 4 or 5 people. You may have noticed there is a lot of mincing and chopping. Get some cereal bowls for the veggies, and get busy. Turn on some tunes to make it less tedious. It’s worth the work. You will admire all the bright colors that will become a delicious salad. If you don’t like some of the ingredients, exclude them, change them, do what you’d like. It’s your salad. Pro tip for the cucumber. After you peel it, slice the cuke lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, and toss them. Then you chop the cucumber. This prevents your salad from getting watery. Place the orzo and other ingredients in a big bowl. Give them a stir.                                                                                                                                         Whatever you do, do not omit the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil in gradually. You can also put it in a glass canning jar and shake…or stir. Season with salt and pepper. Honestly, the only thing I measured was the red wine vinegar. I guesstimated the lemon juice and honey. Get a spoon and taste. Isn’t it great? Lemon and honey! This can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill if making ahead. Drizzle the dressing over the exquisitely minced veggies and feta. Feta is bettah! (I’ve been waiting for 500 or so words to say that!) Mix it together. Stand back and admire your work. If you are reducing the salad by half, reduce the dressing too. If you have any left over, try it on a regular green salad, to fancy it up.

Enjoy!

A tasty summer side dish

Cucumber Salad with Onions and Balsamic Vinegar

 

So many summer side dishes are filled with mayo and other fattening ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I love them but sometimes you need tasty and low in calories. This cucumber salad fits the bill. This time of year the markets are brimming with Vidalias or Walla Wallas. This recipe is perfect for these onions. You can even double the amount of these because the recipe is written with red onions in mind. If you don’t have balsamic vinegar you can use only red wine vinegar. When you put the mixed salad in the fridge, the olive oil  may get thick. A few minutes on the counter will bring it back to a liquid form.

 

4 medium cucumbers

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced

½ cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

½ tsp. salt

black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of chopped chives or dill for garnish

 

Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise. With the tip of a metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the cucumbers into ¼ inch thick slices. Combine the remaining ingredients except the garnish, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Check seasonings and garnish with chives or dill.

 

Happy Summer!

 

This recipe is loving borrowed from “The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook