Thursday, October 24, 2013

Orzo Salad becomes Main Dish

Barbara Cardinal created her own version of Orzo Salad from page 159 of Tastes & Treasures cookbook. We love creativity in the kitchen!
Her comments, "My husband and I had it for dinner  - I added some cooked chicken I had on hand.  It makes a great main dish salad too.  Very versatile.
Here are my changes:
- Did not saute the mushrooms.  Just chunked them and added them raw.
- Eliminated the garlic (I am not a garlic fan in salads)
- The asparagus was the very very thin stalks.
- Put in some green as well as red bell pepper.
- Doubled the amount of dressing, added some sugar and some more salt.
- Eliminated the feta cheese, since I did not have it on hand." 

Orzo Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

Ingredients Dijon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Ingredients for Salad:
1 pound asparagus, blanched
16 ounces orzo
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup drained oil-pack sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions for the Vinaigrette:
Whisk the lemon juice, shallot, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Add the olive oil gradually, whisking constantly until the olive oil is incorporated.

Directions for the Salad:
    Slice the asparagus spears diagonally into 1 inch pieces. Cook the pasta using the package directions until al dente and drain. Toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a bowl and cool to room temperature. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the shallots and garlic. Sute for 5 minutes. Toss the mushroom mixture with the pasta.
    Add the asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, bell pepper, green onions, feta cheese, mint, Parmesan cheese, olives and basil to the pasta mixture and mix gently. Add the vinaigrette and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the pine nuts. Garnish with teardrop or pear tomatoes and sprigs of Italian parsley. Serve at room temperature. You may prepare up to 1 day in advance and store, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Serves 8 or more.