Saturday, June 27, 2015

Basil Orzo Salad

Most people understandably are under the impression that it's cold (or at least chilly) in Alaska all the time, but we can have pretty warm summers.  So far this summer, we've had a lot of days in the mid to upper 80s.  Night doesn't offer much relief since the sun doesn't actually really go down, and I don't know anyone around here with air conditioning in their home.  It's usually actually cooler outside than inside.  It's also so far been a very fiery summer, at the moment there are nearly 200 separate wildfires burning in Alaska and it's very smoky out.  As a result of all the heat and smoke, we've been wanting to eat a lot of cold foods, which means I've been making a lot of pasta salad.  
This is my slight twist on a recipe I found on the blog Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  It's one of those recipes that I saw, then made that night after a quick trip to the grocery store.  I served it as a side dish (along with fresh raspberries) for Peperoncini Beef Sandwiches, and it was a very good dinner.  It also keeps well in the refrigerator, as long as you keep the tomatoes and spinach separate!

Basil Orzo Salad
12 oz orzo
chicken broth
1/3 C olive oil
1/4 C white vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/4 C pesto, or enough to give it a bit of a basil flavor
2 C cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 C green onions, sliced thinly
1 C feta cheese
about 4 C baby spinach, torn into pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Bring chicken broth to a boil and add a little salt.  Stir in orzo and cook over medium-high heat until al dente, stirring occasionally.  Drain thoroughly, but do not rinse.  Stir in oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and pesto, then chill pasta.  Stir in cherry tomatoes, green onions, feta, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve cold.  If you won't be eating all the pasta salad within a couple of hours, I suggest storing the sliced tomatoes and spinach separately and stirring it into the orzo before you serve it because the spinach will wilt and the tomatoes will get soft.

Yield:  About 10 side dish servings

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