It’s been quite warm here lately and I was craving a tart and colorful pasta salad. Decided to make an orzo salad that was chewy, nutty, yet packed with a punch of flavor. Orzo basically means ‘little barley’ in Italian. I was first introduced to orzo through a Greek dish I found on the internet called “Manestra.” That recipe will be posted soon as well and it is a regular in our house-hold. What I love most about pasta salad is that you can pretty much do anything with it. You can mix the pasta with actual salad – such as chopped romaine leaves and toss them all together. You can even mix the leftovers with grilled chicken, shrimp or fish cakes. I might just end up doing that tomorrow, but as for now, here is the recipe. I came home today after running a few errands in the warm weather. Decided to make this quick, simple and healthy meal that I knew my family and I would enjoy. I love being able to use ingredients that are already in the fridge. The prep time was quick and the meal was made in a quick manner as well.
Sauteing a few of the ingredients truly brings out aroma and flavor into a pasta salad. You’ll notice this in particular when eaten the next day.
I have an obsession with avocado anything.. so there ya have it.. sneakily just sitting there on my plate. But it all went well together. 🙂 Just look at that colorful plate of delishness. <3
Mediterranean Orzo Salad (my own recipe) // sehrah xx
1/2 pound (8 oz.) orzo pasta (boiled separately in hot salted water)
1/2 cup capsicum (red bell pepper, diced)
1 small shallot or 1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 (15 0z.) can white garbanzo beans
1/4 fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 bag of fresh baby spinach (chopped or shredded by hands)
1/4 cup sliced black olives (pitted)
4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1/4 cup of Greek crumbled feta cheese
1/2 lemon (juiced)
salt to taste
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp dried mint leaves
1. Boil orzo pasta. The pasta is rice shaped, make sure that it boils for a good 10-12 mins, that way it retains its shape and texture. Don’t let it get too soft. Drain. As the pasta is boiling, make sure all veggies and ingredients are chopped and ready.
2. Drain canned garbanzo beans. Rinse. Toss them into a fry pan that’s medium hot and ready with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots and garlic. Add in the chopped red bell pepper at this time as well. Saute both ingredients for three minutes with 1/2 tsp of salt. Add in red chili flakes with the dried mint leaves. Allow the spices to develop their aroma for two minutes. Make sure this mixture is sauteing on medium heat. Stir often.
3. Once the beans and peppers are soft, add in the shredded baby spinach and chopped black olives. Stir for about three minutes until the spinach is tender and wilted. At this time, toss in the warm orzo pasta into the skillet. Make sure to coat the pasta evenly with the bean and pepper mixture. Allow all ingredients to cook for another two-three minutes. Make sure all flavors fuse together at this time. Add extra salt if needed at this time. Toss in fresh lemon juice, chopped parsley, and feta. The remaining olive oil (two tablespoons) should be mixed in as well. You want this dish to be shining with flavor!
4. Turn off heat and enjoy. Serve with extra feta, red pepper flakes, and even some chopped avocado! Want to keep this dish vegan? Completely omit the feta and toss in some walnuts or avo. The added healthy fats truly allow this wonderful pasta dish to shine. You can eat this warm or cold. Serve it up the following day with chopped lettuce leaves for an added crunch.
I truly enjoy this dish as it is. It kept my belly warm, full, and satisfied. You’re free to create any modifications. I might even serve this up tomorrow as a cold pasta salad with chopped boiled eggs. I just love pairing protein with carbs to create a complete meal. You can even sub the orzo for quinoa.
What are your favorite kind of salads? Any pasta in particular that you enjoy? Their are so many different pasta shapes out there. I’m always discovering a new one in the grocery shelves, particularly within international food markets. They are such a joy to visit and I love purchasing pasta from the direct source, such as Italy or Greece. I often purchase orzo that is shipped from Greece. The flavor and texture are always on point.
That’s it for now dearies. Until next time!
Ciao and have a wonderful Wednesday – the mid week is here – make it a good one.
Sara // xoxo