You may recognize some version of this composed salad from the prepared Salad Bar of your local specialty grocery. This version includes plenty of veggies. I make this a lot and like to include something red (tomatoes or sweet peppers), something green (string beans or asparagus), something protein and fiber rich (chickpeas or kidney beans), something for crunch (shallots, red onions, or pine nuts), and something for added flair (like feta cheese, Kalamata olives or fresh mint). If I'm making it for a light supper, I'll dice a roasted chicken breast to make it feel even more substantial. The point? Get creative!
For the salad, you'll need:
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 cups green beans, blanched and cut into thirds
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup feta cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan bring 4 cups salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir in orzo and cook until tender but firm, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile make the vinaigrette. When the orzo is cooked, drain in a strainer. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add half of the vinaigrette. Stir until well coated and set aside.
- Prepare the vegetables starting with blanching (boiling in salted water) the green beans. While they cook, chop the tomatoes (into halves or quarters) and toss them with the remaining dressing. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and add them to the tomatoes. Dice the Kalamata olives roughly into quarters. When the green beans are crisp-tender (about 3 1/2 minutes) drain and rinse with cold water until cool (this stops them from continuing to cook). Chop them into thirds. Set aside.
- Dice the shallots and scallions. Chop the fresh mint.
- Add all the elements together in the bowl with the orzo. Stir to combine well. Crumble the feta cheese in at the end, as the last step, so that it doesn't get lost. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
For the vinaigrette, you'll need:
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
2 tbsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup hummus
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the vinegar and the mustard and whisk together until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Slowly pour the olive oil in, whisking to emulsify. Add the hummus. Taste. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
Photo of Orzo Salad via Flickr user Three By Sea: Nicole North Rodriguez