This summer salad is quick, easy, delicious and loves to travel. What more could you ask for? Perfect for Tailgates, Potlucks, Picnics or whenever you feel like it. This guy loves to be served at room temperature, so no worries about keeping him cold. because that’s when the flavors of the herbs really pop. In fact, I have been known many times to heat this salad and serve as a side dish along with supper. The orzo is bathed in lemon juice and olive oil, and he scent of herbs perfumes the dish and makes it irresistible. Pack some along to your next gathering, or do like I do and stash a bowl in the refrigerator for a supper side dish during those hot days of summer when the thought of cooking just makes you mutter ‘ugh’.
One of my favorite parts of this salad is the dressing. No heavy mayonnaise that needs to be monitored by the food police when taken out of the refrigerator for more than a few minutes, but an herb and lemon packed vinaigrette type of thing. Usually I prefer fresh herbs when I can get my hands on them, but for this dressing I really kind of prefer dried (except for dried basil, which in my opinion should not be allowed since it tastes like how I imagine dried alfalfa tastes). Besides, this is summer, and with dried herbs there is no need for washing, stemming, or chopping all that greenery. Just make sure your dried herbs are relatively fresh, and have not collected dust in your spice drawer for more than let’s say, six or eight months.
This salad is also fun to decorate, and since it’s not really popping with color, some bright accompaniments are appreciated. Here I used some sliced sugar snap peas, sliced pepper rounds and some fresh thyme sprigs that had flowered, chives and chive blossoms.
Served on pretty plates, this works pretty well for summer lunches outside if I do say so myself.
If you’ve got any edible flowers in the garden, now might be the time to toss some in. Just be sure they’re organic so you don’t end up glowing in the dark after you eat them.
As always, thanks so much for reading today. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do. Happy summer!! xoxoxo
- FOR THE PASTA SALAD
- 1-pound Orzo pasta, cooked, drained, rinsed, and tossed with a little olive oil.
- 1-2 cups Feta cheese crumbled (with extra for sprinkling on top) NOTE: If you aren’t a huge fan of feta, feel free to substitute another cheese. Mozzarella is good because it will soak up the flavors of the dressing, but I wouldn’t turn my back on a Monterrey Jack, Sharp Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, or Provolone)
- 1 ½ cups thinly sliced small, sweet peppers
- 1 ½ cups pitted and halved Kalamata or green olives
- ½ cup sliced green onion
- 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- FOR GARNISH (Optional)
- If you're in a garnishing kind of mood, I like to used sliced sugar snap peas, chives and chive blossoms, fresh herbs, pepper slices or anything colorful that happens to look complimentary and be hanging around the kitchen.
- FOR THE LEMON HERB VINAIGRETTE
- 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (or pesto works just as well)
- 3 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (or 1-2 teaspoons dried dill weed)
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, or to taste (rosemary can be quite strong OR 1 or ½ teaspoon dried or dried& powdered rosemary)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried tarragon)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons spicy mustard
- 5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- FOR THE LEMON HERB DRESSING
- Dressing recipe is adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook
- Combine all of the herbs, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice in a large bowl or food processor.
- Drizzle in olive oil while processing or whisking by hand.
- Stir in the fresh or dried herbs (if you blend them up in a food processor beforehand with the rest of the ingredients, they get all ground up and don’t look particularly appetizing).
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- FOR THE PASTA SALAD
- Cool pasta to room temperature.
- Toss peppers, peas, olives, green onion into pasta.
- Toss dressing into salad right before serving.
- Scatter Feta cheese over the top of the pasta and gently toss in.
- Right before serving, gently toss in the rest of the dressing (the pasta will have a tendency to drink up the dressing so that’s why it’s a good idea to save some for right before you dive in).