I am back! Although my blog is new, I unfortunately had to take a mini blogging vacation. The reason for my cooking/writing sabbatical will be revealed shortly and hopefully my next few recipes will make up for my time away. My original plan for my next post was my friend Ifrain’s tostones recipe, but because I made this orzo salad for a 4th of July party, I figured this recipe should come first. It is a great summer dish and tastes even better on the beach! This recipe is a modification of a salad I used to buy at Wild Oats in Miami Beach and over the years I have changed the recipe to create a perfect balance of orzo, feta, olives and tomatoes.
As further proof of this recipe’s success, I have posted a picture below of my friend’s beautiful daughter finishing up her second portion of the salad. This was the truest compliment since her mother says she is a picky eater and at 14 months she is too young to know how to lie. To me this is as good as a four star review from the Times!
1 package of orzo (or about two cups uncooked orzo)
1 pint of grape tomatoes halved or quartered (sometimes I don't have enough tomatoes to I quarter them so they go further)
1 cup of pitted Kalamatas chopped
3/4 lb of Feta, crumbled
6-8 thinly sliced basil leaves
2 thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbs olive oil plus extra for the orzo
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 cloves crushed garlic or finely mince and create a paste using the flat of your knife and a little salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the orzo according to the package instructions in rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. (Make sure it is not overcooked or it will be mushy). Stir frequently to ensure the orzo does not clump. When done rinse in cold water and top immediately with olive oil and mix to ensure the orzo does not stick together. Normally I don’t rinse pasta, but in this instance it is ok since it will be served cold and you don’t need the extra starch to bind a sauce.
When the orzo has cooled add the Feta, Kalamatas, tomatoes, scallions and basil leaves.
Make a vinegraitte by combining the vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Combine well and toss over the salad and then stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste. I usually add one teaspoon of salt and black pepper, but the season will vary depending on the Feta you use. Some brands are saltier than other. Make sure the salad is thoroughly mixed, then chill over night or at least a few hours. This salad tastes best the next day!
§ Chiffonade the basil leaves by stacking, then rolling tight and slicing. I usually give them an extra chop so the pieces are smaller.
§ You can usually find pitted Kalamatas, but if not, you can use a cherry pitter to remove the pits. You also can use the flat side of your knife, by smashing the olive as you would a garlic clove. The pit will be pushed away from the flesh of the olive. Remove the pit and immediately throw it away. Even if you use pitted Kalamatas make sure there are no pits hiding since you don’t want anyone to chip a tooth while enjoying this salad.
§ As with all recipes, this salad required the best quality Feta, Kalamatas and olive oil.
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as Nairee did!!