Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Orzo & Rice Salad

This delicious salad comes to me by way of a Middle Eastern friend of my daughter. It has become one of my favorite side dishes to make, and is chock full of a wonderful blend of textures and flavors. I especially like it for summertime barbeques or potluck gatherings as it is tasty either cold or at room temperature, and can be made a day in advance.  

The base of the dish is a mixture of orzo pasta and wild rice. The orzo serves as the dish's main ingredient, and is a great base to soak up the flavors of the vegetables and the balsamic vinegar/lemon juice/olive oil vinaigrette dressing.  The wild rice lends a nice, nutty, chewy texture to the mixture.

The vegetables can be varied to suit your taste, but some, like the green onions, parsley and red  pepper, in my opinion, are must-haves to either boost flavor or add wonderful color to the dish. Other essentials include the raisins and walnuts, raisins for their sweetness and walnuts for the crunch.

The salad is easy to prepare and is best after a few hours when the flavors have had a chance to blend and fully penetrate the rice and pasta. As you can see from the photos, it has a wonderful mix of colors and goes well with any grilled, broiled or roasted meat.

Orzo & Wild Rice Salad

1 cup dry orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/3 c. wild rice, cooked separately according to package directions
1/3 c. sweet red pepper, chopped
1/3 c. green pepper, chopped
1/3 c. red onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (white & green parts)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 c. raisins
1/3 c. walnuts, roughly chopped
Vinaigrette dressing:
2-3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 T. lemon juice
1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix cooked and well drained orzo pasta and wild rice. Add all the chopped vegetables, the raisins, and walnuts and mix well together.

To season and dress the salad, add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Add 2 T. of the olive oil, 2 T. of the lemon juice and 1 T. of the balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning and dressing ingredients accordingly. 

Let the salad rest for at least an hour either in or out of the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend together. 

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