As I was perusing the food blogosphere yesterday I happened upon a recipe for orzo pasta salad. It reminded me of two things. 1. I love orzo salad. 2. I really shouldn’t eat it. Yes, there are worse things than orzo, but as I’ve mentioned before my problem is not quality but quantity. And let’s face it, orzo is addicting. Still, I was sold on the idea and decided to roll with it. I usually go for whole wheat orzo – heartier and easier to digest than traditional – but, I can only find it at Whole Foods and I was not in the mood to make a trek just for a package for orzo, so regular it had to be. Instead I used my other trick when it comes to pasta salad: make sure there are more vegetables than pasta. That way you’re filling up on veggies, but still satisfy that need for pasta. I thought that roasted vegetables combined with orzo, tomatoes, feta, and fresh herbs would be a good, light, fresh combination for a springtime dinner (and frankly, that’s what I was in the mood for). I roasted a pan of my favorite vegetables – mushrooms, red onion, red pepper, zucchini, broccolini – in olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme, and let them cool. I cooked half a pound of orzo in salted water, drained it, threw it right into the pan with the veggies, and tossed it around. I sliced and salted about half a pound of mini heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s (you could use cherry tomatoes) and tossed those into the pan with a container of crumbled feta cheese, the juice of a lemon, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley, a bunch of chopped fresh chives, and voila, a beautiful salad.
Now, you’ll see from the picture, I assembled this warm: my feta cheese melted into the salad and I have to say, it was quite delicious. Gave it an irresistible creaminess. Were I to do this again, I think I would go for chilled. I’d toss the pasta with olive oil and let it cool completely before assembling the salad. Then I would stash the whole thing in the fridge for an hour or two and serve it chilled. This way the feta would stay chunky and fresh. However I must say, I’m enjoying a bowl right now directly from the fridge and it’s quite good. However, fresh tomatoes are killed by refrigeration, so if you’re planning to serve it chilled, I would leave out the tomatoes until you’re ready to serve it.
This is a classic example of the starving artist creating a lovely dish simply by throwing together what I was in the mood for. Not a $2 dinner, but in one swoop I made enough for at least 3 meals. Sexy. What are you in the mood for today?