Orzo Salad

So, for a dinner party recently, I decided to make orzo salad for the starch/veggie. I wanted something cold since it’s already so hot down here (in fact, today we have a mini cold front coming in, forcing our high to only be 85*F). I got the idea for the salad from my mother, actually. She is borderline addicted to a lemon orzo salad available through Fresh Market. It has cherry tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts in it. The following is my own little variance on the dish. Namely, I did not make it lemon flavored, and I used spinach instead of basil.

This was probably one of the most complex dishes I’ve made…at least in a while. You really have to watch orzo like you do risotto–constant stirring too.

There was one thing I really was not expecting in making this dish: pine nuts are friggin expensive!!!! Observe:

The item on the left is a pine nut. An 8 ounce bag of pine nuts costs over $10. On the right is a bit of orzo. For 99 cents, you can get a box of orzo that will give you eight entree sizes. Unbelievable, right?

ORZO SUMMER SALAD

Ingredients:

  • One package orzo
  • Pine nuts
  • Olive oil–LOTS of olive oil, so use “good” stuff
  • Salt and pepper
  • White wine, 1/2 cup
  • Water
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. “Cook the orzo and pine nuts.” For that you should:
    1. Place the pine nuts and orzo in a skillet. Drizzle with olive oil–just to “wet” the grains/nuts.
      The number of pine nuts I used.

      The pine nuts, with the orzo and olive oil. Pre-liquid.
    2. Cook over high heat until the orzo slightly browns.
    3. Reduce the heat, and start adding liquid 1-2 cups at a time. For my batch I used 1/2 cup white wine (for flavor), and 4.5 cups of water. Again, though, only add 1-2 cups at a time. Also, while the orzo is cooking you must STIR CONSTANTLY.
      The first two cups.

      Orzo absorbs water VERY quickly.
    4. When the orzo is done, remove from heat immediately. How can you tell when the orzo is done? Well, you can always taste it. But, when you’re stirring it, you won’t see any liquid at the bottom of the skillet. Moreover, the sound will remind you of the sound scrambled eggs make when you move them in a skillet (if that makes ANY sense).

      Done!
  2. Let the orzo cool.
  3. Now, when orzo cools it clumps. So, you want to add a LOT of olive oil (I didn’t even bother to measure it was that much). Season very liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. When you’re close to serving take whole or sliced cherry tomatoes and some cleaned spinach leaves and toss them in the orzo. Mix very well. Season one more time and serve!

    My first four servings–the meat is pork.
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