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