Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Orzo Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Summer side salads are kind of my thing.  I just love them!  Pasta salad, potato salad, coleslaws, etc....I could eat them all and I love coming up with variations on them.  I usually make this salad with couscous but I just did the Southwest Pearled Couscous salad so I figured I’d switch it up and go for the gold with orzo.  

Orzo is in the pasta family -- just in tiny form -- so pasta salad lovers are going to die for this salad.  The vinaigrette is a simple mixture of lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard and olive oil.  If you don’t have white balsamic vinegar, it’s ok to use regular balsamic, just know that the black/brown color of the vinegar will tint the salad and you won’t get the beautiful clean look of fresh veggies against pasta.  The ratio of oil to acid in my vinaigrettes is commonly in the acid’s favor, whereas traditional vinaigrettes use more oil than acid.  I do this to cut down on calories -- at times this can lead to a dry pasta salad, as the pasta will soak up the liquid, but if you are serving the salad right away, go ahead and make it according to the recipe.  Another way to get around adding more oil is to just dress the salad just before eating {if you are taking it to a party, etc}  And feel free to go crazy and add in anything your little heart desires.  I usually throw some feta cheese on top of this, but some of my guests just weren’t a fan of feta {!!!!!!}.  

Orzo Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 lb uncooked orzo pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 large cucumber, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-3/4 c. crumbled feta, if using

  1. For the vinaigrette: {Tip: Make the vinaigrette in the bottom of the bowl you will be serving the salad in} Combine lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, dijon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Cook orzo according to package instructions, drain and rinse with cold water to cool down pasta.
  3. Add orzo to the bowl with dressing.  Combine orzo with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beans, onion and parsley.  Toss to coat.  Top with feta cheese and serve.

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