With summer around the corner, my appetite or interest in food takes a plunge. Soaring warm temperatures makes me go searching for dishes that are light on the palate, easy on the spices, and refreshing to say the least. I enjoy salads but to be honest, I relish them mostly as a side dish and not an entire meal. That said, this orzo salad is so flavorful and refreshing that I could easily make a meal out of it. Even though it’s vegetarian, the fresh flavors mixed with lemon, you won’t miss the meat in this dish as it doesn’t skimp on the flavors.
Another highlight of this salad has to fresh herbs. Have you ever tried to pinpoint what you ate that it tasted exotic exuding delicious aromas? Any exceptional chef/cook knows that fresh food is always the best and fresh herbs is the seasoning which takes it over the top. Any good cuisine can be simply prepared, but add a few sprigs of fresh herbs or a medley and you have created a masterpiece. The fragrances alone will impress your family and guests. Culinary herbs are chef/cook’s essential tool which we use to tantalize our diner’s senses even before the first bite.
I still relish the ambiance of this particular restaurant in England which decorated each of their patio dining tables with small rosemary plants. Oh my! the wonderfully addictive aroma of rosemary in the air, tugged at my foodie heart each time I passed the restaurant, begging me to sit with the herbs and enjoy a fantastic meal. What a wonderful idea! It was both practical and aesthetic.
And since I have become an avid herb gardener, I can’t cook fast enough a variety of dishes to compliment my blooming herbs.
Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Orzo is pasta in form of a large grain of rice. Fresh herbs make this salad vibrant and refreshing. I typically use the tri-color orzo for this dish. In my opinion, it is a complete dish in itself bursting with vibrant flavors, and one place where the non-vegetarian won’t miss the meat.
This light salad mixes refreshing cucumbers with crunchy red onions, fresh herbs, and lemon vinaigrette for a winning combination. It can be served as a refreshingly lunch entrée, brunch side, or adorn your cocktail table. Don’t feel like you have to follow this recipe exactly—it’s perfect for playing around with.Throw in some seasonal fresh vegetables like heirloom tomatoes, add some cashew nuts or almond slices.
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup good quality EVOO
- 2 cups orzo pasta
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, diced
- 1 small-diced red onion
- Cook the orzo as per box instructions, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl.
- Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.
- When the orzo has cooled down, add the scallions, herbs, cucumber, onion. Toss well and taste for seasoning. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.
Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Food Network.
Do you enjoy the aromas of fresh herb? Is there one you in particular fancy? I would love to hear from you. Shoot me an email or post a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.