When I came back from Europe last January, I invited my ex-roommate Amy over for dinner. My then-current roommate Jen suggested that she would make orzo salad for the occasion. I had my doubts because I can't imagine a cold pasta salad with raw herbs and sour dressing would be any good, but I complied. And thank god I did, this cold pasta dish has since become one of my favorite dish to make, and one of the most enjoyed dish in my family. I have made this dish many times to potlucks and others, and they were all very well received. The only problem with this dish is that it is difficult to find good orzo pasta. I only like the ones you purchase by weight at this one Safeway (market) in Castro, San Francisco. They are quite expensive as well, at $2.75/lb. Barilla makes orzo as well, but they are smaller, and the texture isn't as good.
(Recipe from Giada de Laurentiis)
4 cups chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (I didn't use this)
1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
About 3/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
**I also add one can of corns
Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover the pan and bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.
Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.
Red Wine Vinaigrette with my modification1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.