Orzo Salad is Best for Guests

The simple recipe suits a busy weekend

Do you have a weekend coming up with lots of guests and little time? Figuring out multiple days’ worth of food can be a daunting assignment. My best strategy is to do as much as you can ahead of time and keep things as simple as possible.

One of my favorite summer recipes is orzo salad with feta, olives and bell pepper, which fits a busy weekend for many reasons: it can be prepared a day ahead and keeps well, goes with either a cold or hot main dish (the fresh flavors complement without being too strong) and can even become a main dish with the addition of cooked chicken or shrimp. And the olives, bell peppers and green onions have an attractive confetti-like appearance!

All in all, a perfect choice for a hungry crowd. Now all you have to plan is where they will all sleep—so remember where you stowed the air mattress.

RECIPE: Orzo Salad with Feta, Olives and Bell Pepper

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups crumbled seasoned feta cheese (such as basil and tomato; about 6 ounces)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

DIRECTIONS

Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm to bite. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add crumbled feta cheese, chopped bell pepper, Kalamata olives, green onions and capers. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, Dijon mustard and cumin in small bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish salad with pine nuts and serve.

Serves 8-10.

Adapted recipe courtesy of Epicurious.com.

Nancy Lynch, a self-taught cook from a family of foodies, teaches cooking classes at Orange Tree Imports and All Through the House. diningin@madisonmagazine.com

Find more Dining In recipes here.

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