I'm looking out the window and it's completely overcast. That is absolutely fine by me. The weather the past week and a half in Orange County has been different and I didn't like it. Oh, it's the H-word: humidity. Yes, it's been oddly humid and sometimes, it was sucking the energy out of me. I'm glad that it's finally cooled off and we're back to having some cooler days, at least for a few days. I welcome the reprieve. I mean, yesterday I was smiling as I heard many of the neighbors' wind chimes jingling away from the cool breeze that was blowing.
And that brings me to this orzo salad that I created. It is a wonderful dish to eat on its own, to wow at a party, or to accompany a fish or chicken dish, eaten outside, al fresco, if you will. This salad absolutely screams summer--so refreshing, flavorful, and full of pizazz. It's filled with inviting colors and you know what they say--you eat with your eyes first and I'm always excited to dive into a colorful dish. I call it Mediterranean because all the flavors and ingredients remind me of different countries on the Mediterranean as well as the way that they eat there--simple, cleanly, and with such gusto.
The ingredients are so simple and yet, so delicious together. I love the sugar plum tomatoes because they are just the right size for this salad and they add that juicy, plumpness that's needed. Balsamic vinaigrette is absorbed by the pasta to give a lovely depth of flavor when you bite into the small pasta. I loaded it with chopped basil because I'm a basil fanatic; it adds such freshness and that sweet, herbaceous quality that it has. Then, mmm, the Feta cheese! It adds a nice tang and pucker as well as a dry creaminess. I know those last two might seem like an oxymoron but you know what I mean. *DO PURCHASE A GOOD QUALITY FETA CHEESE!*
Right, that's it! Short list of ingredients, right? Easy to put together. Let it chill in the refrigerator before consuming. And, you're done! It's such an easy salad that you can easily whip it up in no time.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- 1 lb orzo pasta, cooked and cooled
- 2 cups sugar plum tomatoes
- 1 large handful of freshly chopped basil
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
- large pinch of salt
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces Feta cheese
1. Cook the orzo according to the instructions on the package. Drain and rinse under cold water for a few minutes. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add balsamic vinaigrette, salt and pepper, tomatoes, and then the chopped basil. Mix well.
3. Add the Feta cheese and gently mix all the ingredients together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
|Cooled orzo pasta.|
|Because the orzo pasta is not entirely cold, it will absorb this vinaigrette.|
|I was not joking when I said lots of freshly ground black pepper. But you add an amount that is suitable to your personal tastes.|
|In goes the basil!|
|Mmm, cheese! Gently mix everyone together and refrigerate for a couple of hours.|