Orzo Pasta Salad | Side Dish

Orzo Pasta Salad
Adapted from Giadia de Laurentis

4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, cubed
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
About 3/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover the pan and bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.

Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Yield: 1 3/4 cups

Caprese Salad

There’s something about the combination of fresh picked tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  Add some salt, pepper, olive oil, and perhaps a drizzle of balsamic and you have heaven on a plate.  It’s a main dish, side dish, appetizer, maybe even a dessert for some.  Anyway you serve it, Caprese is easy, beautiful, and delicious.

Caprese Salad

Fresh, ripe tomatoes (local or homegrown are best)
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Freshly Ground Pepper


Judging by size & desired presentation, slice or chop the tomatoes.  Use either mozzarella balls, slices, or cubes.  Chop basil leaves if desired.

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, basil in a serving dish.  Drizzle evoo and balsamic evenly over dish.  Top with salt & freshly ground pepper.

Do your best not to lick the bowl.  Oh, go ahead, why the heck not?!

Garden Fresh Sunflower Sprout and Orange Pepper Salad

Tonight’s was another random tasty dinner made with what we had on hand from the garden.  This salad was not only delicious, it was beautiful too.

Garden fresh orange peppers, sliced into strips
Fresh carrots, peeled and sliced into strips
Garden fresh sunflower sprouts
Garden fresh herbs- rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, and oregano
Crumbled Goat Cheese (I recently found organic at BJ’s!)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss well.  Serve in a pretty bowl. 

Farro and Beets with a Citrus-Balsamic Vinaigrette

The garden is still bursting with beets, so I’m still seeking out delicious ways to prepare them.  This recipe was very tasty, but also very tangy. 

Farro and Beets with a Citrus-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted  from The Kitchenette

3 beets, washed and dried
handful of springs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups farro
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 ounces cold goat cheese
salt and pepper

Coat beets with olive oil and roast in a 425 oven for about 45 minutes, turning often, until they are tender.  The beets are done when a knife is easily inserted to the middle of the beet.

Meanwhile, add farro to medium stockpot. Cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to boil over high heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.  Drain and set aside.

While the farro cooks, combine the orange juice and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and then cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When the beets are cooked through, remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes, and rub away beet skin using a kitchen towel or paper towel.Slice beets into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

To serve, combine farro, beets, and dressing in a serving bowl. Toss to coat. Crumble goat cheese on top of salad. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Barley & Roasted Beet Salad

Our garden is overflowing with beets right now.  We typically roast the beets and eat them cold on a salad sprinkled with goat cheese.  Here is another delicious way to cook the beets.

Barley & Roasted Beet Salad
adapted from Clean Eating Magazine

Preheat oven to 400.  Wrap 4 beets in foil and roast in oven until tender, about 45 minutes.  Peel and cut into small wedges.  Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp orange juice, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper until emulsified.  Combine 1 cup cooked barley, beets, 1/4 cup toasted almonds and dressing; toss gently.  Garnish with 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese and 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This is a staple on my family’s holiday table.  I think it falls into the category of dessert, but Mom and Grandma serve it as a side dish.  Either way it’s a yummy addition.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cups melted butter
1 cup, 2 tbsp sugar
1 large container whipped topping
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 small packages strawberry jello
2 small packages frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
2 cups hot water

Combine pretzels, butter, and 2 tbsp sugar and press into 9×13 baking dish.  Combine whipped topping, less 1 cup, cream cheese, and 1 cup sugar and pour over crust.  Refrigerate.

Mix jello, strawberries, and water and let stand until thick and syrupy.  Pour over cream cheese mixture.  Spread remaining cup whipped topping over strawberry mixture.  Refrigerate until firm.

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Roasted Tomato-Basil Dressing

Our garden produced a bounty of red peppers this summer, so I began looking for creative ways to use them.  This salad is a tasty addition to any cookout.  I served it cold, but I think it would also be excellent warmed.

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Roasted Tomato-Basil Dressing
Adapted from Kayln’s Kitchen

2 cans (15 oz.) white beans, rinsed and drained well
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and cut into thin strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
sea salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Organic Tomatoes with liquid
generous 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 C olive oil
sea salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste

Thoroughly rinse beans until no foam appears, then let drain well. While beans are draining, combine tomatoes, basil, vinegar, salt & pepper in blender. Puree until ingredients are well combined, then taste to see if you want to add another tablespoon of water. With motor running, mix olive oil into dressing.

Combine peppers, beans, and 1/2 cup dressing a bowl and stir to combine.  Just before serving mix in fresh chopped basil, chopped oregano, and a bit more dressing. (You will not need all the dressing.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve.