Here in California, the weather is sunny and beautiful. This type of weather is exactly the kind that makes me want to eat something cold and delicious on a breezy patio somewhere. The dish here is exactly the kind of dish that I love to eat on such a day ... behold the Mediterranean Orzo salad. Not only is this dish tasty, but it is a complete, filling dish that is chock full of protein, something that many cold dishes are not.
The beauty of this dish is that you can substitute your favorite types of ingredients to make a salad that is truly your own.
Here's the recipe:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup faux chicken broth (made with Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken base)
6 oz. orzo
1 1/2 cups cannellini or Great Northern beans (about one 15 oz. can), rinsed and drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Feta cheese for garnish
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo, cover, and simmer until the pasta is just tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
Transfer to a large bowl, add the cannellini beans and tomatoes, and stir to combine. Let cool slightly.
Stir in the olives, lemon zest and juice, dill, salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until the salad is cold throughout. Serve on a shallow, chilled salad plate and sprinkle crumbled feta cheese (vegan or regular) on top of salad. Finish off with a sprig of fresh dill on top.
Olives: You can swap out the kalamata olives for any olives that you prefer, such as mild black olives, mixed herb French or salty, delicious Spanish olives. I am an olive whore, I admit, I will eat any type of olive any time!
Tomatoes: Ahh, tomatoes. Tomato season is upon us and there are soo many delicious tomatoes from which to choose. You can substitute any kind of tomato into this dish, including some of my favorites: vine-ripened Early girl, Roma, Brandywine and Tigrella.
I hope you enjoyed this yummy cold orzo salad. Enjoy this salad on a sunny afternoon, while sitting on a patio and counting your blessings.
The Vegan Voice