Monday, April 19, 2010

Orzo salad with asparagus, tomatoes, spinach and feta

After a hard days work in the yard I was in the mood for a light, refreshing veggie packed pasta salad. I had orzo pasta in the pantry just for this - I love how the small rice sized grains pick up the dressing flavors and are small enough to allow you to get a bit of everything into one bite. The vegetables needed to be able to stand up to the acidity of the lemon juice dressing, both asparagus and spinach fit that niche nicely. Sweet cherry tomatoes add a bright burst of color and help balance the lemony tartness. Creamy salty feta is the final touch, bringing the whole salad to a harmonious balance.

For the dressing I selected the freshest of herbs, ones from my own garden. The oregano is a classic paring with lemon, chive adds a nice mild onion flavor and parsley, well what can't stand a touch of parsley? I wanted just a hint of garlic in this dressing, really just a perfume of it if you will. I had a lot of garlic for the shrimp I made along with this dish (shrimp recipe will be posted soon) so I borrowed about 1/2 a cloves worth. Making a paste of the garlic helped distribute its potent flavor amongst the salad.

Feel free to use any veggies that your family likes. I'm looking forward to making this many more times through out the summer, using the best of what the garden has to offer.

Orzo salad with Asparagus, Tomatoes, Spinach and Feta
makes 6 side dish servings
1/2 lb orzo pasta
8-10 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 lb asparagus, woody ends snapped off and then cut into 1 in pieces
about 15 leaves of spinach washed and cut into small chunks
1/3 to 1/2 c feta cheese
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
small bunch of chives (about 15 stems)
2 sprigs oregano
small bunch parsley (maybe 1 T minced)
3 T EVOO
1/2 clove garlic
1 t kosher salt

First, make the dressing. Finely mince all the herbs and put into a bowl. Mash the garlic with a pinch of salt, once you have a paste put it into the bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice onto the herbs, add remaining salt and EVOO. Whisk it well to emulsify the dressing.

Cut up the spinach and add about 2 T of dressing to it. Toss well. The acid in the dressing will start to break down & wilt the spinach. Add the quartered cherry tomatoes on top of the spinach.

Cook the orzo. When there's 1 minute left add the chopped asparagus, cook remaining 1 minute, the asparagus should have taken on a bright green color and be tender crisp. Drain well.

Add orzo asparagus to the spinach & tomatoes. Whisk up the dressing again and pour it on top of the orzo, toss well to coat everything evenly. Add the feta cheese and serve.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 180.8
Total Fat 9.6 g
Saturated Fat 2.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.4 g
Cholesterol 7.8 mg
Sodium 412.2 mg
Potassium 411.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.8 g
Dietary Fiber 3.1 g
Sugars 0.7 g
Protein 6.2 g

7 comments:

lily said...

I can almost taste this - it looks so fresh and tangy. I have never heard of orzo so I shall look out for it so I can try your recipe!

Raina said...

I love pasta salad, and this looks so beautiful and delicious. I was looking for a good pasta salad recipe. I need to get on the healthy-food band wagon. Thanks!

Jenn said...

The salad looks beautiful! I love orzo..of course Chris does not, but I still tend to make it every now and then, if only just for myself. I'll have to add this to my recipe list!

StephenC said...

Lovely salad.

Tonya said...

I love everything about this salad. Some of my very favorite summer ingredients and I can't wait to make it. In late summer, I think I'll have about everything I need growing in the garden. Mmm.

Barefoot Belle said...

Yum! I started reading the title of this...you had me at orzo, but it just got better from there! Love everything you've put into this salad.

jane deere said...

Wow, Andrea, this looks great! I love orzo...and all the fresh ingredients! This will be a great recipe for me to make to use all the fresh garden produce.

Thanks for sharing ~ and great pictures!

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