Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Orzo Salad

This is my version of "Herb Orzo Salad with Feta and Cucumbers" from an article in The Commercial Appeal last month. It's perfect for picnics or for summer evenings when you don't want to eat anything heavy. You could serve it as a side dish or put it over a bed of lettuce for an elegant main dish.

1 lb. dry orzo (Orzo is rice-shaped pasta. It nearly triples in size when cooked.)
1 4-oz. log goat cheese (Vegetarians should be sure to check cheeses to make sure they are not made with rennet or animal-derived enzymes.)
1 pint (or more, to taste) grape tomatoes, halved (Or you can quarter the larger cherry tomatoes.)
1 large cucumber (or more, to taste), peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dried parsley (or 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano (or 1/4 c. chopped fresh oregano)
1 c. (or to taste) balsamic vinaigrette (I used Newman's Own Light.) or other Italian-style dressing of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to cool the orzo, then set it aside to dry. (I stirred this occasionally to expose new surfaces to the air.)

Mix everything except the goat cheese together, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Crumble the goat cheese over the salad, and mix it in. Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator until needed.

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