Culinary Quest #3 – Lemon Orzo Salad

Dean & Deluca is one of my all-time favorite eateries.  They have incredible food – good food that’s good for you.  I love to treat my family, friends and myself there, however, I don’t always have the time nor the budget that comes with shopping and eating at this upscale joint (as much as I wish I could!). So, in order to enjoy the same great tastes at home, I began creating my own version of their dishes.

Once I nailed the lemon vinaigrette, I found it is a wonderful base for many dishes.  Sometimes we want a savory dressing without too many herbs because they can easily overpower the salad ingredients. This vinaigrette is light and flavorful, not too strong, and with just the right amount of zest.

Today we’re serving up…

Lemon Orzo Salad

(Serves 8)

16oz       orzo pasta – cooked al dente in salted water *do not overcook *

1             red pepper; finely diced

1/2 -1c   medium red onion; finely diced

1c           spinach leaves or field greens; chopped (measured after chopped)

1 1/2c    feta cheese; cubed

½-3/4c   Kalamata olives; pitted & finely diced (to taste)

Lemon vinaigrette (see below)

Directions:

While orzo is cooking, make the vinaigrette in a bowl or a bottle with a lid. Mix/shake vinaigrette until sugar is dissolved.

Drain orzo, then while it is hot (this is important!!) toss with the vinaigrette in a mixing bowl so the pasta soaks up the liquid while it cools. (It also avoids the vinaigrette pooling at the bottom of the bowl.) Toss every now and then to make sure liquid is evenly absorbing into the orzo.

Once the orzo has cooled to room temperature, mix in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Toss again before serving.

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/3c   plain rice vinegar

1/2c   fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/3c   canola oil

1/4c   granular sugar

1/2t   salt

Enjoy it as an entree or side dish.  It’s a great way to beat the summer heat! ~ Kristi