Gardening isn't my forte, but I manage a very small herb garden. One thing I can count on every spring is the return of my chives, and of course my mint. Once those start to sprout I always run out and grab a few basil plants. Basil seems to do well all on it's own, with very little attention. It is so nice being able to clip them whenever I'm in need and I always enjoy having them on hand in the spring and summer.
This Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette was a perfect way to use up some of that fresh basil and chives from my garden. A lovely salad of orzo, juicy grape tomatoes, spinach, toasty pine nuts, salty goat cheese, in a fresh herby vinaigrette...yum! Perfect and light for summer!
I've made a couple versions of this salad and I do have to say that I like this one best! The ratios just seem to be spot on and the salad kept very well. I can see myself making several times throughout the summer. It's absolutely lovely to have on hand and eats well on it's own, or as a side.
Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Adapted from Curtis Stone Website
1-1/2 cups orzo pasta
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
12 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons thinly sliced parsley
1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste
Fill a medium sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente (7-8 minutes, usually).
While the pasta is cooking get the rest of your salad together. In a large salad bowl add the chopped shallot, chopped garlic, and sliced basil. Stir in the red wine vinegar, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until completely blended. Season the dressing with salt and pepper, to taste.
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and set aside to cool slightly. Add the tomatoes, spinach, pine nuts, feta cheese, and herbs to the dressing. Toss to combine. When the pasta is slightly cooled go ahead and add it to the salad, tossing until combined. Serve warm or cold. Salad can be refrigerated and held in the fridge for 2-3 days.
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