Like a lot of folks, I tend to gravitate toward lighter foods as the weather warms up, moving away from hot soups and stews to sprightly salads. Yes, I know...the s word. Vegans can be wary of salads because omnivores assume they're all we eat, and omnivores are wary of salads because, well, I'll admit they can be boring and unfulfilling. Obviously, it doesn't have to be that way.
I prefer salads that can stand alone as a main dish and make you feel happy about it. I try to include hearty ingredients as well as light and crispy ones. This Greek orzo salad is a great example. The crunchy herbs and veggies pair well with a warm, sunny afternoon while the pasta and beans leave you full enough to feel like you're not just eating a side dish.
Start with the pasta. If you've never tried it before, orzo might appear to be a type of giant rice, but it's actually pasta that's been shaped to look that way. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but it works well in soups and salads. For this recipe, boil it like you would any pasta, but use vegetable broth instead of water to give it an extra bit of flavor.
While the pasta cooks and then cools, you can prep the other ingredients. It's a fair bit of chopping, but the well rounded combination of flavors - from sweet tomatoes to tangy artichokes to salty olives - will make it all worth it in the end.
Finally, whisk together a quick dressing made with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and fresh oregano.
Mix everything together and that's it! Aside from prepping the veggies, there's not much to this one. I recommend enjoying it on your porch with a big glass of iced tea.
Greek Orzo Salad
1 1/2 cups dry orzo
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup halved and pitted marinated olives
1 (6 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Prepare the orzo according to package directions using the vegetable broth instead of water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and allow to cool, tossing occasionally.
- While orzo cools, prepare the dressing. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Once orzo has cooled, add remaining salad ingredients and toss well. Pour in dressing and toss until well coated. Serve chilled or at room temperature.