Shaped like a grain of rice but with the textural qualities of pasta, it’s easy to see why orzo is such a versatile ingredient. Indeed, whether in a casserole, salad or “risotto”, orzo performs admirably, adding a touch of lightness and a smooth texture to every dish. One of its finest qualities, however, is just how quickly it can be prepared. From start to finish this fresh herb salad should only take you 10 minutes to prepare, making it a great choice for anyone who’s in something of a rush.
The grain shape of orzo makes it particularly effective in sauce based dishes, or those with a dressing. It tends to be the case that the larger the surface area of pasta, the better it “holds” sauce between each piece. For instance, this salad contains plenty of olive oil mixed with a twist of lemon juice and the orzo does a great job of suspending that vinaigrette and preventing it from falling uselessly to the bottom of the salad bowl. However, if you’re finding it a little tricky to find orzo – it can be – macaroni or fusilli would be a great way of getting around that.
As you can see from the ingredients list below this is a very simple salad – I enjoy simplicity. However, the great thing about food is that everyone has a different opinion on how things ought to be done. Try toasting a few roughly chopped pine nuts and scattering them into the salad bowl with a smidge of parmesan for a slightly richer, more complex flavour. Whichever way you choose to serve this salad, a good quality olive oil and plenty of punchy herbs will ensure it’s a delicious experience for all.
Local connection: Eat Drink Bristol Fashion, a superb little food festival will be running in Queen’s Square, Bristol from 13th – 27th May. Featuring some of the region’s top chefs, the pop up restaurant, cafe and music venue aims to showcase the best culinary experiences Bristol has to offer. Tickets seems to be selling out pretty quickly, so if you want to get in on the action now’s the time to get the ball rolling (the organic Sunday carvery courtesy of the Pony & Trap seems to be a particularly good deal with prices starting from £10). However, if you’re feeling obnoxiously lucky head over to the event’s Facebook page before May 17th to enter for free tickets to the event.
Orzo and Fresh Herb Salad
• 200g orzo pasta
• 4-5 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
• A twist of lemon juice
• 5-6 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs – basil, mint, coriander, parsley or chives
• 10-12 cherry tomatoes quartered
• ½ tsp salt
• A little black pepper
1. Bring your orzo to the boil in a pan of salted water. Add your finely chopped herbs, oil, salt and pepper to a large salad bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. Once the orzo is tender drain it and rinse it with cold water until cool – this will have the added effect of removing excess starch. Add the pasta and tomatoes to the herbs, mix thoroughly and serve.
Cost: Good quality olive oil is expensive, there’s no getting around that. However, a great idea is to have an olive pomace oil blend on hand for frying and baking – keep the extra virgin for drizzling. Indeed, a bottle of good olive oil can last a long time if used sensibly. Indeed, this salad should set you back no more than around £1!