When I think of summer food, I think bright, bold flavors that won't weigh you down. And this summertime orzo pasta salad delivers on all fronts. It's got everything you'd want to awaken your palate in this brutal heat: There are woody kalamata olives; tart marinated artichoke hearts; cooling-sweet tomato; and a meaty bite of fresh, chunk feta cheese. Of course, you've also got the substance and flavor of beautiful orzo pasta. Paired with some light grilled fare like lemon-zest rubbed grilled vegetables or shrimp, this easy pasta salad makes summer feel sweet.
Summertime Orzo Pasta Salad
1/4 pound of dry orzo pasta
1 large vine-ripe tomato
1/4 cup of kalamata olives
1/2 cup of jarred marinated artichoke hearts
4 ounces of chunk reduced fat feta cheese
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Start by boiling 2 quarts of water with a pinch of salt. Once it's come
to a boil, add your orzo pasta and cook for 9 minutes, until al dente.
Strain the pasta and toss with the olive oil, then set aside to cool.
Next, dice your tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces. When cutting tomatoes to
incorporate into a salad, I like to remove the pulpy, seedy interior --
it only waters your salad down and provides very little flavor.
Scooping the seeds out with your fingers works best.
Along with the tomatoes, dice a 4-ounce hunk of reduced fat feta cheese
into 1/4-inch cubes. You could just as easily use pre-crumbled feta
cheese, but I like the meaty bite that chunk feta adds to the salad.
Next, roughly chop about half a jar of marinated artichoke hearts,
being sure to drain as much of the oil as possible. Do the same with
your kalamata olives. I like to cut them into circles like you'd see in
a can of black olives (only these taste way better).
Finally, gently mix all the above vegetables into your cooled orzo.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze the juice of 1/2 to 1
whole lemon over the top. Then, the finishing touch: a scattering of
fresh oregano, roughly chopped.
The pasta is light, summery, and makes a perfect accompaniment to almost any grilled meal. Enjoy!