Monday, July 6, 2015

Mediterranean Inspired Orzo Salad

Here's a new favorite salad of mine, created in my mind a while ago, and served on the table tonight. It's light and tasty and will make every little taste bud dance in your mouth. I promise it will, and the pastabilities are endless!

Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Serves 6

2 T canola oil
1 large onion diced
Kosher salt
1 cup uncooked orzo
Additional salt and pepper
1-3/4 cups water

1/2 English cucumber peeled, seeded and thinly sliced in half moons
4 scallions chopped 1/4 inch
4 oz roasted grape tomatoes halved
10 Kalamata olives halved
2-3 oz feta cheese chopped 1/4 inch
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 T store bought hummus
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T light soy sauce
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To cook the orzo: In medium size saucepan on medium low heat, heat your canola oil. Add the chopped onions and some salt and pepper. Cook uncovered on stovetop to soften the onions, not brown them. After about 5 minutes they will be translucent and ready to accept the orzo. Add the cup of orzo and coat with the buttery onions. Add a bit more salt and pepper (the orzo has absolutely no flavor if you do not season it). Stir to combine onions and orzo and let the orzo toast a bit (2-3 minutes). Add water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to the lowest simmer and cook 12-13 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

While orzo is cooking, make your dressing and prep your veggies. The dressing is so simple...just put all ingredients into a medium size jar, shake and dressing is done. Even though there's soy in the dressing, I add a pinch or two of salt. It's up to you, but I like that little extra pinch in there.

Place all salad ingredients into a medium size bowl and toss with a 1/4 cup of dressing.

Now add the cooled orzo and dress with another 1/4 cup of dressing. Add some more cilantro leaves and serve in lettuce cups if you desire.

And now for the re-mixes: How about adding a cup of chick peas or artichoke hearts? And if you'd like to take this out of the vegetarian arena, give some small dices of salami a try- I bet that would be delish. You could also switch out the cilantro for mint. Or try a creamy goat cheese, buttery fontina or tangy blue. My favorite addition/idea to this salad so far will be to add some falafel croutons. I haven't tried that yet, but I will for sure. And soon!