I first had orzo pasta salad many years ago at The Twisted Fork in Tulsa at Utica Square. I don't even know if they serve it anymore. That had to have been in the early 90's when I first had this. I was only able to find orzo at Whole Foods in Austin and so I set about trying to copy their recipe. Since then I've made this several times and the ingredients change according to what is fresh and in season.
Mom's of picky eaters take note: One time I had this in my refrigerator and a friend who was a very picky eater came over and fell in love with this dish. That particular time I had been short on time so instead of chopping my veggies by hand I gave them a few pulses in my food processor. This person never knew there was carrot, squash, zucchini, spinach, and onion in there! It was flavorful without big obvious pieces of veggies.. so, try this out on your kids!
For this dish I used about 101-15 spinach leaves, diced bell pepper, 1/2 small red onion, 1 minced garlic clove, halved tomatoes, diced cucumber, feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and Italian dressing, and of course cooked Orzo.
You can add a couple of different types of chopped olives for a more Greek version of pasta salad.
To toast the pine nuts, put them on a pan under the broiler but
DO NOT WALK AWAY!
It takes such a short period of time for them to begin browning. This took less than 2 minutes.
As you can tell, I finely diced the veggies. That was half of a small red onion but I really would use 1/4 next time. And my garlic clove was gigantic! I loved these little grape tomatoes!
Just cook your orzo according to the directions on the package. I used a cup and a half. After the orzo is cooked rinse thoroughly in cold water until the pasta is no longer hot. Then drain well.
Put the orzo in a bowl and toss with just enough salad dressing to coat the orzo. This used maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir. Add the parmesan cheese last. This salad is best when refrigerated for a while before serving but you'll have a hard time not nibbling on it! If it seems like maybe it's not sticking and seems to "wet" just toss in some dried bread crumbs. :)
I've experimented with making my own dressing for this but really, why? It's just as good if you use a bottled dressing.
This is the perfect dish for a summer gathering! Enjoy!!
Life on the lake is laid back. When we cook it's far from being fancy affair. It's all about relaxing with friends and family and enjoying comfort food. More often than not it's not all that healthy but boy it sure is good!!!