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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Orzo Salad

Summer is very hot in Georgia.  Not many cool days.  I certainly don't want to heat up the house cooking all day.  I eat many different kinds of salad during the summer.   I wanted something refreshing for dinner tonight.  After checking the pantry to get a start, I found the can of artichoke hearts.  I absolutely love them in salads, with hot pasta, in dips, and other recipes too.  So, I had a start.... artichokes.  A box of orzo caught my eye, then I started thinking.  Staples in my house may be a bit unusual for some, but I always have a few cans of artichoke hearts, lemons, parsley.  A Greek without fresh lemons in the house is practically unheard my family any way. It's a family joke-Dad had an uncle who put lemon on scrambled eggs.

Light, refreshing and healthy, here is my recipe for Orzo Salad.  This would be great served with grilled fish or chicken (cooked Greek style of course) for those that like a more substantial meal.  A large loaf of French bread and a side of feta cheese is all needed to finish this meal.

  • 1/2 16 oz box orzo cooked "al dente"
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1 small cucumber (pickling kind), diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 can small artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and cut in half
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
  • 1 cup tiny frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
  • 1 cup parsley leaves (yes, I pick off each leaf), slightly cut (not fine pieces)
For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil (I just use regular, not extra virgin for this)
juice of two lemons (you can try one first...and if you want more add a second)
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon Greek Oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 small cloves garlic, minced

Cook pasta as directed for al dente and place in large container.  Add chopped vegetables and other salad ingredients. Toss gently.  Prepare dressing, pour over pasta and chill.

I'm always "winging it" in the kitchen.  A little of this, a bit of that, and voila a new recipe. Some have miserably failed, but I still give it the good old fashioned try!

During the winter, I make a hot pasta dish with Orzo. Prepare as above, using only peas, parsley, and artichokes with the orzo.  For the dressing (sauce in this instance) use 1/2 cup melted butter instead of the olive oil with the lemon, garlic, lemon pepper and zest (omit oregano).  Do not pour all of the buttery sauce on the pasta, but just to coat individual servings. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese!  Nice, hot filling dish!

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Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar