Orzo pasta salad –the beautiful pearly orzo pasta glistening in herb-ed olive oil ( I keep a small portion of olive oil always ready, infused sometimes with rosemary, thyme or garlic), peppered with colorful roasted red bell peppers, broccoli, roasted cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts (or any other seed or nuts for that crunch in your salad) with generous sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese (you can use Parmesan also) and fresh curly parsley /basil (from the kitchen garden). A generous shower of fresh lemon for the finishing touch. Isn’t it sounds fancy and gourmet? It is. But this beautiful orzo pasta salad is simple and so easy to make. Perfect to whip up a gourmet dinner on busy weeknights.
Or for days when you just don’t have enough time for cooking anything at all. For days that just gone away in blink of eye. For your Sunday picnics. For your quick lunch box menu. For those lazy pajama days. Or when you are in mood for something light and refreshing to eat.
This orzo pasta salad is wholesome salad in its own, but you can always serve it as a side with your grilled meat, chicken or fish. Sometimes I add shredded chicken (leftovers mostly) or cubed pieces of grilled fish to add more protein power to this lean orzo pasta salad.
Orzos are petite in size, shape like rice grains, fast to cook. I mean fastest when it comes to cook any kind of pasta. 15 minutes max. Extremely versatile. They can soak up any kind of liquid, from tomato based pasta sauces, marinara, creamy Alfredo, mushroom ragu or white wine. Last one is my favourite. Light, flavourful and reserved for special mood times.
For regular cooking, I use homemade chicken stock. I believe happiness is homemade. You will always find bottles of stock arranged neatly in my pantry. I usually prepare the orzo in pilaf style. That is sautéing the orzo in herbs and garlic and then simmered slowly in chicken or vegetable stock. They increase in volume once they get cooked completely. So, adjust the ratios of vegetables and other ingredients accordingly. This Orzo pasta salad is simple, involves no intense cooking, hence freshness of ingredient is important here. Plus quality of ingredient should be top notched.
I make it often and every time I add some variations to it as per my whims and mood. But never forget the roasted bell peppers (red ones) and slightly charred broccoli and garlic. They are simply amazing and adds fancy touch to the regular orzo pasta salad.
Enjoy this, till I whip up another bowl and hopefully get some time to take few awesome shots to convince you that this orzo pasta salad is a true keeper.
- Orzo / rice pasta : 1 cup
- White onion : 1 small chopped
- Garlic : 1 tbsp minced
- Herbs ( basil, parsley, rosemary. thyme) : any one a handful
- Red bell peppers : 1 small roasted
- Broccoli / broccoli rabe : 1 cup florets
- Cherry tomatoes : 10
- Nuts ( pine nuts or almonds or sunflower seeds) : 3 tbsp
- Cheese ( feta or Parmesan)
- Chicken / vegetable stock : 2 cups
- White wine : ½ cup
- Salt to taste
- Butter or olive oil as required
- On a griddle or oven, charred the red bell peppers, remove the skin and chopped them. Reserve it.
- In a separate pan, add some oil and nicely charred the broccoli florets. Do not blacken them. Reserve it.
- Heat some butter in another pan. Fry the garlic and onions till they are lightly translucent in color. Do not burn them.
- Add the cherry tomatoes cut into halves, and fry them till they become soft and starts loosening the skins.
- Add the orzo pasta, lightly toasted them.
- Add the chicken stock, followed by white wine.
- Adjust the salt. Cover and let it simmer till done.
- Orzo pasta will double in volume and become soft, once they are thoroughly cooked,
- Throw in the broccoli florets, chopped red bell peppers and give a nice stir.
- Stir in the cheese, herbs, season with pepper and little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- A dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and generous sprinkle of toasted pine nuts or almond cut into slivers or flakes or sunflower seeds.
- Serve immediately.
You can use leftover shredded chicken or cubes of fish, to add some protein power to this lean orzo pasta salad / pilaf. Veggies like mushrooms, pumpkin or squash are also a good choice.
Happy Week Ahead,