I enjoy making orzo salads. I’ve written about them before and have shared a few recipes. I think my favorite aspects of these types of dishes is that they are so quick and simple to prepare. When you’re not in the mood to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, start thinking of the orzo salad.
If you’re interested in recipes that are similar to this one that I’ve shared in the past, please take a look below:
There are really only three primary areas of concern while putting this salad together. First is cooking the pasta. That’s easy. Second is prepping the vegetables. That’s easy too. Last is making the vinaigrette, which only consists of three ingredients or so, so needless to say, it’s easy.
If you’re sure to salt the water the pasta cooks in, this dish will burst with flavor. As with any pasta, there needs to be an infusion of flavor enhancement during the cooking process. There shouldn’t be any additional salt necessary throughout the rest of the recipe preparation. The kalamata olives and Asiago cheese take care of that.
As with a few of my previous recipes, I was able to take advantage of the basil we have growing in our garden. As I was saying to Laura last night right after I picked some, “This basil thing isn’t half bad. Sure beats paying all that money in the grocery store.” I purchased 18 plants earlier in the season and transplanted them into small 1 gallon containers out back. They didn’t do much in the beginning, probably for about a month, but since the heat of summer arrived, they’ve been showing some vigorous growth. I’ve been using it in the kitchen extensively. Since six plants only cost a bit over $3, I’d say I already made my money’s worth back. And as an FYI, you can easily grow basil on your windowsill inside, so I encourage you to give it a try.
Finally, I’d like to thank Cooks Country for this recipe. While I altered a few things, I was mostly inspired by them.
For the Salad
1 Tablespoon Regular Table Salt
1 Pound Dry Orzo
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomato Spread
1/2 Cup Kalamata Olive Slices, Jarred
1/2 Small Head Red Cabbage, Finely Chopped
1 Cup Grated Asiago Cheese
1/2 Cup Pecans, Chopped and Toasted
1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, Chopped
For the Vinaigrette
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Ground Black Pepper
If you prefer pine nuts, or any other type of nut for that matter, feel free to toast them and use them instead of the pecans. Also, Parmesan, or even Feta, cheese would work splendidly with this recipe. If you want to add a bit of bitterness, substitute the red cabbage for radicchio. Finally, if you’d like a twist of sweet, use white balsamic vinegar as opposed to the regular balsamic in the vinaigrette.
Cook the Pasta
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. When boiling, add the orzo. Cook for about 8 minutes and then start tasting the pasta. You want it to be almost al dente.
When finished, strain the orzo well in a colander and then transfer it to a large bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir thoroughly. Let sit and cool to room temperature.
Make the Salad
After the pasta has cooled, add the remaining salad ingredients to the large bowl: the sun dried tomato spread, olives, red cabbage, cheese, nuts and basil.
Stir all these ingredients into the pasta thoroughly.
Make the Vinaigrette
In a smaller bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, garlic, olive oil and ground black pepper. Whisk well until uniform.
Combine & Serve
Finally, add the vinaigrette to the salad and mix well. Fill a few bowls with the salad and serve.
The Final Dish
I’ll be honest with you, I ate this dish fairly quickly last night. I truly enjoyed it. The kalamata olives add tons of flavor and the red cabbage offered some nice texture. Give it a try!
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