Greek Orzo Salad
My good friend and neighbor doesn’t cook, not even something that I would consider as a no brainer. For her birthday this week, in lieu of sweets, she asked me to make her some Greek orzo salad, which I happily did. She provided me with a possible recipe, which needed a lot of adjustments, so I came up with a prize winning sample (I’m the judge) and will definitely start making this often. Thanks, Sherrie!
I loved Sherrie’s gift late last night, so much that I whipped up another batch today and don’t think I’ll get sick of the Greek flavors any time soon. In fact, when I was pregnant with Isaac, I craved Greek food more than anything else. (I’m not pregnant, by the way.)
Since I made two batches, I played around with the quantities and variations. For the first round, I used 4 very large Roma tomatoes. For the second time, I used a container of grape tomatoes plus a container of cherry tomatoes, 20 ounces combined. The amount of vegetables can easily fluctuate, depending on what you have on hand.
The two pints of tomatoes yielded about 3-1/2 cups, diced. I’m a big fan of tomatoes and could have easily gone up to 4 cups.
When we lived in Taiwan for a year, we used to eat xiao long bao (dumplings) at Din Tai Fung and one of my favorite sides they served was baby cucumbers with a tangy marinade. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on baby cucumbers and prefer them to any other variety. My five-year-old loves them too, which is why we only had four left in the bag this morning. That’s what I used. I would have added more if I had them.
These cucumbers are firm and not full of big, unpleasant seeds in the middle.
Definitely add more than this if you have them. The first batch I made had twice as many cucumbers as this one, but it’s not like the recipe is bad because of it. And I wasn’t in the mood to go shopping, so this is it for today.
You can be quite flexible with the amount of vegetables you use, as I mentioned before. This batch has red onions, which I prefer for the color, a little more than 1 cup, diced. Last night’s version had a white onion.
Finely chop some fresh parsley. This isn’t exactly a deal breaker on the recipe either. If you don’t have it, don’t worry. It will still taste fantastic. If I can add fresh herbs, I will.
Besides the dressing, feta is the last ingredient, about 6 ounces of crumbled feta cheese.
The vinaigrette dressing is the component that brings everything together so well. I made this lovely tiny pitcher full last night, so today it was ready to pour over the cooked orzo pasta. I used a 16-ounce bag and cooked it in boiling water for about 13 to 14 minutes, then drained it. I rinsed the pasta in cold water two more times to cool it down.
For Sherrie’s gift, I put her salad into individual jars that she can easily grab from the refrigerator and snack on. As I mentioned in a previous post, I stocked up on the cute little mason jars at Target recently and knew they would come in handy.
The calories for one jar is about 250, and one recipe makes 13 servings of this size. I have a young musician cousin coming to Austin tonight with his band on the road. I plan to take the boys these portable, savory treats to enjoy after the show in addition to some homemade cookies. Jakob just graduated from high school and is touring with his band, Mt. Eddy. He follows in his big brother’s footsteps, Joey, from the band, SWMRS. And more recognizable, he is the son of Billie Joe Armstrong, front man of Green Day, who is my cousin. (Billie Joe’s mom and my mom are sisters, in case you’re wondering.) It’s exciting to go see Jakob to play tonight, my first time!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
Orzo Salad Ingredients
- 16 ounces dried orzo pasta, cook according to package directions
- 3-1/2 cups diced tomatoes
- 3-1/2 cups diced cucumbers
- 1-1/4 cups diced red onion
- 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- chopped fresh parsley
- vinaigrette dressing