When we were living in California, one of our favourite treats from the Italian deli markets was a flavour-filled orzo salad. They varied, but always went well with anything from roast chicken to grilled fish. After moving to Ireland, I longed for some of our California comforts and worked on inventing a similar salad that could be made easily with pantry ingredients and fresh balcony herbs.
You can make this salad your own with the combination you choose to include. Aside from the orzo and dressing, every other ingredient is optional and can be swapped out for something else you prefer. I specifically do not cook with salt because the olives are very salty in this recipe, but feel free to season to your preferences.
Sun-dried Tomato and Herbs Orzo Salad
1/2 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic (I sometimes substitute for paste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (I sometimes use frozen)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 cups orzo, cooked accordingly to instructions on package
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup halved pitted olives
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
- In a small bowl or wide-rimmed pitcher, emulsify the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Then add the garlic, basil, and parsley. Set side or cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 24 hours).
- Once the orzo has been cooked and strained, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Then pour the dressing in little-by-little as you fold it into the orzo mixture. Finally, add the cucumber and artichoke hearts.
- Serve chilled. This can be immediately or cover and refrigerate for a few hours, making it an excellent pot luck or party dish.
Note: Add feta cheese chunks or grilled meat to make this a hearty main course.