Orzo and Fresh Herb Salad

Orzo and Fresh Herb Salad

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.

Orzo and Fresh Herb Salad

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

Serves 4

Ingredients:

• 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

Method:

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.

Orzo and Fresh Herb Salad

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.

Orzo and Fresh Herb Salad

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!

42 thoughts on “Orzo and Fresh Herb Salad

  1. Andrea Mynard

    I love orzo, use it in a River Cottage dish with anchovies, parsley, lemon juice and sardines. This looks like a lovely way to use it though, perfect with all the Spring herbs that are growing fast.

  2. Natalie Ward

    I am loving orzo at the moment too! It’s such an easy base to add flavours to. Will go with your rinsing tip next time, usually just add the flavourings to the warm pasta but can see it would keep better being rinsed, thanks! ;)

  3. Beryl J. Lindsay

    Now that the kids are on summer vacation we spend a lot of time at the beach and need some good picnic food. This salad is fun and easy to make and you can make it with any vegetables and server it warm or cold. It travels well without spoiling because it has olive oil instead of heavy mayonnaise. The kids love it because I let them pick out the color of the orzo (red, white, green) and the vegetables that we use. One time we had spinach orzo with yellow corn and red tomatoes. Today we are having white orzo with green peas, artichoke and white beans with lemon flavored olive oil. You can add chicken or shrimp to either dish if you have some way to keep it cold until you serve it at the beach.

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