April 7, 2005

Spinach and Orzo Salad

Spinach and Orzo Salad

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked orzo pasta
1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
1/2 pound crumbled feta cheese
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, feta, onion, pine nuts, basil and white pepper. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Notes: This year I experimented with packing a dinner to eat en route to ACUS. I had a cooler that plugs into the car (with an extension for use with regular outlets). Our menu consisted of the recipe above, along with homemade bruschetta on garlic toast crackers, and smoked salmon. The salad worked out pretty well, though I discovered I had made far too much (even at just a half batch; a full is probably 8 healthy servings I'd guess) and more had to be eaten (and shared) upon arriving at the convention. A nice dish, though, and simple to make. Very pleasantly blended flavors and not at all your average pasta salad. It lasts about 3-4 days before the vinegar starts to turn it south. I expect it would be great for picnics.

For a lighter version, I've seen it recommended that one use low-fat feta and reduce the amount of pine nuts to to 6 TBSP (and toast them for more flavor).

Posted by Jennifer at April 7, 2005 9:28 PM

This ended up being quite tasty, and the balsamic, which seemed like it might be overwhelmingly strong during the preparation, actually blended into the rest of the flavors in a nice, mellow way. The pine nuts and feta added nice changes in texture and flavor. Recommended.

Posted by: Michael at April 9, 2005 1:37 PM

I make a similar salad. It works well for me to mix the dressing and keep it separate from the salad until we are ready to eat it. It lasts longer and tastes fresher each time we eat a portion.

Posted by: gfaith at July 1, 2005 1:07 PM
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