This is what I’m craving now: Summer vegetables and bright herbs, a bite of salty cheese and a satisfying pasta base. I’ve made this recipe for herbed pasta salad (from my book, “The Findlay Market Cookbook“) several times lately, first as a cooking demo down at Findlay Market, and then for dinner last week. This week, I’m making it again for a family picnic. Local cheesemaker Eduardo Rodriguez of My Artisano Foods shared the recipe for the book.
Cooking the orzo in vegetable stock gives it more flavor than your typical pasta-salad pasta. The chickpeas are key: they add texture and heft. Use whatever veggies and herbs you find at your farmers’ market: I think corn, tomato and sweet onion would be awesome. Either Feta or fresh goat cheese would be swell, but you could also do diced smoked gouda or mozzarella for a different taste.
Here are two keys to amazing pasta salad, courtesy of a post I recently spotted on Epicurious: First, rub the halves of a garlic clove all over your serving bowl to give just a hint of flavor without the breath-destroying fire of fresh garlic. Second, dress the salad while the pasta is a bit warm so it absorbs all that yumminess.
You’ll be eating this all summer long, I promise!
herbed orzo salad with summer vegetables recipe
For the dressing:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup good olive oil
Combine all but the olive oil in a blender and whirl to combine. Add the olive oil in a thin stream and blend to emulsify.
For the pasta salad:
1 large clove garlic, smashed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 pints mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely minced red onion, or to taste
1 cucumber, finely chopped
1 cup minced fresh herbs (parsley, chives, thyme, basil, oregano, savory)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
4 ounces Feta or goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
First, rub the smashed garlic clove all over your serving bowl. In a saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil; add the orzo, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 7–8 minutes or until the orzo is done. Drain the orzo and transfer it to the serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and dressing to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.