Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

greek-pasta-salad-orzo-350This is one sweet pasta salad. It is absolutely delicious, and it gets better when you refrigerate it and eat it as leftovers. It’s great for cookouts, for sure. However, I make it all year long as a side dish. There’s nothing like it. It incorporates Kalamata olives, Feta cheese, tomatoes, and dill for starters. You almost cannot go wrong from there. It doesn’t matter when I make it  (and it’s always a bit different when I DO make it) it’s always a favorite of the people I’m feeding at any given time (except the children who will not try anything that might be remotely creative).

Orzo is one of those pastas that I grew up with. My mother and grandmother used it in chicken soup. They also used it when they made us macaroni (which is what we called pasta as kids) and butter, or macaroni and cheese. It’s also used in rice pilaf. It’s just one of those comfort foods for we Italians. And, apparently, for the Greeks as well.

Ingredients

1 lb (16 oz) of Orzo pasta

1.5 cups cucumbers, quartered (I like to use the European “seedless” cukes for this recipe)

1.5 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (Get creative here; they don’t have to be red because the sweet yellow tomatoes are awesome in this pasta salad)

1 cup red onion, chopped (We used to call these Bermuda onions when I was young; maybe some people still do)

1 cup Kalamata olives, halved

1 16-oz packae crumbled Feta cheese (Some recipes call for less, but I say the more the merrier)

4 tbsp dried dill

1 cup julienne sun-dried tomatoes in oil (You can buy them this way)

Greek Dressing (recipe below)

Directions

The first thing you want to do is boil a large pan of water and some salt. Add the Orzo and boil until done. That takes about 12-15 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Don’t be afraid to get your hands in there. Allow the Orzo to drain completely.

Transfer the Orzo to a bowl large enough for you to mix in the ingredients. Throw in the cucumbers, tomatoes, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, dried dill, Feta cheese and Greek dressing. Toss to mix well.

Greek Dressing

This is where the Good Seasons Cruet comes in very handy. I just posted this on the Kitchen Essentials page. If you use this, you cannot go wrong. Trust me.

White Balsamic or Pinot Grigio vinegar

Canola oil

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried lemon thyme

1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning (McCormick makes a great product)

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt

Fill the cruet with vinegar to the water line (I never use water to cut the vinegar; I just ignore that line). Add the lemon juice, oregano, lemon thyme, lemon pepper seasoning, and salt. Add the canola oil to the “oil” line. Cap the cruet and shake well.

Add it to the pasta salad and mix well.

Refrigerate the pasta salad until it’s ready to be served. There’s a lot of pasta salad here, but no matter. It gets better as it gets older. I’ve made this for weekend cookouts and have eaten it the entire week after until it’s gone.

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