“It takes four men to dress a salad: a wise man for the salt, a madman for the pepper, a miser for the vinegar, and a spendthrift for the oil.”
~ Anonymous ~
I have the author of my Falafel recipe, Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste, to thank for this gem of a Greek Orzo Salad. It is quick, it is tasty and it is beautiful. You can also easily swap some ingredients around and change it into any other orzo salad you feel like. What is orzo you ask? I know orzo as pasta rice. It is a form of pasta shaped like long grains of rice. I threw a packet of pasta rice into my shopping trolley recently and then saw this recipe. Once I was getting ready to cook the orzo I realised that the name on the packet was riso and not orzo. The difference? Just the size apparently. Riso is shorter and fatter than orzo, looking a bit like arborio rice.
It’s so quick!
Hanging around on a beautiful autumn Sunday is lovely. But when you realise your husband is already bringing the meat out for the Sunday braai and you haven’t done preparation of any side dishes, things get hectic. Luckily this recipe only requires 10 minutes for cooking and while the pasta is cooking you can prepare the other ingredients. Another great advantage of this Greek Orzo Salad is that the ingredients making it Greek, are basic pantry staples, so no need to rush to a shop. And if you really don’t have one of the ingredients at hand, swapping is easy and you will still have a lovely salad.
It’s all about the lemon
So basically, you just cook the orzo (or riso) and let it cool down for a few minutes. Then add halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, black olives, cubes of feta and some red onion. Then you add the vinaigrette, which takes this salad to a whole new level. The fresh lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil give the salad freshness with a depth of flavour. Next time I am going to zest some of the lemon peel and add that as well. The lemon really makes this salad delicious. Not buying lemons as a pantry staple? I never used to have fresh lemon in the house, but nowadays I buy a few every now and then and keep them in the fridge so that they last longer. They are always useful for salad dressing, two-minute mayonnaise, and of course, Tequila!
Greek Orzo Salad
- 1½ cups uncooked orzo pasta (I used riso)
- 1½ cups cucumber, diced
- 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅔ cup red onions, diced
- ⅔ cup black olives, sliced
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (I did cubes)
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 t fresh lemon juice
- 2 t garlic, minced
- 2 t dried oregano
- 1 t sugar
- ½ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the orzo according to package instructions until al dente.
- Drain and add to a large bowl.
- Add the cucumber, tomatoes, onions, olives and feta.
- In a small bowl or glass jar, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and sugar.
- While whisking, stream in the olive oil, then taste and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
- Add the dressing to the pasta and toss to combine. Enjoy the salad immediately at room temperature or cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until ready to serve.
- I used brown onion as I didn't have red. Red onion is what is traditionally added to Greek salads. I also used only a tablespoon full as I personally don't like raw onion.
- I had fresh parsley in the fridge, so I added ½ a cup of finely chopped parsley to the salad.
- I kept my olives whole as I have a family member who doesn't eat olives and had to be able to avoid them when dishing up.
- I added the juice of a whole lemon and reduced the red wine vinegar to 2 tablespoons (30ml).
- I added a heaped teaspoon of whole grain mustard to the vinaigrette.
- Kelly notes that the salad is best if you give it an hour or two to marinate in the fridge before serving. It can also be made up to one day in advance and stored, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge.
- I am confident that this salad could be made using cooked white or brown rice. Cooking the rice would take a bit longer, but I am sure it will still be delicious.