Monday, May 28, 2007

Orzo Pasta Salad

In celebration of Memorial Day, most of us are having or attending a barbecue or a party and enjoying extra time off work. But hopefully in the middle of the grilling, beer drinking and fun, we remember with solemnness the men and women who gave their life so we can enjoy the kind of existence we have today in America.

I, for one, take for granted sometimes how many freedoms and securities I have that allow me to focus my energies on things like BBQ menu planning and new cocktails to create.

This salad was one of our menu items for our Memorial Day barbecue - it comes from my friend Sarah, who got it from The Sonoran Grill cookbook from Mad Coyote Joe. It's an amazing recipe! Slightly sweet, but it has a bit of a bite from the peppers.

The best thing is that it's best made the day before (easy) and is best at room temperature (even easier) and with no dairy or meat, it is not likely to ever cause the dreaded mayo-based salad issues. Plus, orzo (rice-shaped pasta) is so fun and different.

Ensalada de Orzo Diablo:
(serves 8 to 10 as a side)

3 c uncooked orzo pasta
1 each yellow, red and green bell peppers, chopped
1 jalapeno chili, de-seeded and de-veined to reduce heat, chopped
1 Serrano chili, de-seeded and de-veined to reduce heat, chopped
1/2 c golden raisins
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small red onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c chopped cilantro
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2/3 c olive oil

Boil heavily salted water to cook orzo - don't let it get mushy, remove from water when al dente. Meanwhile, mix all vinaigrette ingredients except oil, then slowly drizzle in oil until an emulsion forms. Toss vinaigrette with pasta, then add remaining ingredients.

Once incorporated, it's best to cover and refrigerate overnight, then let come to room temperature before serving.


Janet said...

That looks amazing. Two weeks ago I bought my first bag of orzo. On the weekend I was surfing around the net for an hour looking for a side dish recipe. Eventually, I put the orzo back in the cupboard and made couscous.... NOW I have a recipe!! Thanks!

Chris said...

Lovin' the orzo salad! It is a staple in my house and love new recipes. Thanks!

lululu said...

Not to mention the finish dish, even the ingredients combo looks amazingly colorful! Good pictures!

Freya and Paul said...

I have a love/hate relationship with orzo - it confuses me because it looks like rice but tastes like slippery pasta. However, your salad has tempted me to try it again!

Lis said...

Love the use of orzo in this pasta salad! Yum! It's so pretty too, I really like the colors. Hubbs will be very happy if I were to make this for him. :)


Patricia Scarpin said...

Kirsten, you won't believe me but I have never eaten orzo - your colorful salad sounds delicious!

Kristen said...

I am going to have to make this... looks wonderful!! You are always coming up with the most delicious things.

Kirsten said...

Hi Janet! Thanks for your comment and I am SO happy you found this recipe. I have made it several times and it is very good.

Hi Chris - I'll have to head over to your blog to look around, this is the only orzo thing I do at this point, I could use a few new recipes too. :)

Thanks Lululu!

Freya - couldn't agree more. Orzo could be very slimy and almost mushy if prepared with just a sauce. Almost like slippery rice. With this recipe, there are nice bits of texture and crunch, so none of the dreaded slipperyness. :)

Thanks Lis! I promise most people will love it. Even my bf swears to hate certain igredients in the salad, but the sum of the parts he loves.

Patricia - you must try orzo. I'm sure you will wow us all with a recipe!

Thank you Kristen!!! :)

KelleyAZ said...

This was quite possibly the best "pasta salad" I have ever had. My picky husband even loved it! And it's soooo pretty. This is the perfect dish to take to a BBQ, plus it's budget-wise and left-over friendly. Kirsten, your photos are amazing...

Anonymous said...

I made this for our tailgate today (actually made yesterday but ate today). It's perfect for this type of thing because I can make it the day before, and actually take it out and set on the table and not worry. Since it needs to get to room temp anyway! Everyone loved it! Thank you.