Sensational Orzo Salad Recipe

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For the sake of a lengthy explanation, this recipe is the compliments of my fabulous “almost-sister-in-law” Shelby. She made this as a side dish for Thanksgiving and I have since made it three times…and then again tonight. Ha!

It is amazing and delicious. It works well as a party appetizer, a light lunch or a side dish. Plus, this salad is packed with flavor thanks to fresh arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, nutty almonds, salty feta cheese and a fresh basil vinaigrette.

When you’re prepping your ingredients, I like to give the arugula and the julienned sun-dried tomatoes a rough chop.

Shelby’s Sensational Orzo Salad Recipe

• One 16-ounce package of orzo, cooked and drained
• 5 ounces arugula, roughly chopped
• 3 ounces julienned sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 6 ounces slivered almonds
• One 8-ounce block of feta, crumbled

Basil Dressing

• 1 ounce fresh basil leaves
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 to 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Red wine vinegar (optional)

1. Start with cooking your orzo pasta to the directions listed on the box to the tenderness of your pleasing.  Keep in mind this makes a HUGE portion.

Adjust the amount of lemon, garlic, salt and pepper to your taste in this Basil Dressing recipe.

2. While the pasta is cooking, go ahead and make your Basil Dressing. Put basil in the food processor along with the lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and set aside. You can play with the measurements so that the dressing meets your taste buds. While I love lemon and garlic, you could omit either. I tend to go easy on the salt because the feta cheese, which we will add a little later, is super salty all on its own.

Set aside the dressing and only add it when serving your orzo salad so that the salad doesn’t dry out.

3. Back to the pasta. After cooking the pasta, drain and rinse it with cold water. Let it cool a few minutes, then put the pasta in a large bowl.

Stir everything together for a delicious medley of flavors.

4. Add the arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and slivered almonds, and stir together. Then add the crumbled feta cheese. Finally, add the dressing to the dish directly before serving. Toss the dressing with the salad and ENJOY!

Note: If you chill the salad overnight with the dressing on it, it loses some of that fresh flavor and dries out.

This orzo salad is ready to serve and enjoy.
Photos by Jennifer Rose

The crunchiness of the almonds and the leafy arugula is so satisfying! You will love it! Try some other variations on the dressing and see what new flavors you can come up with! 

Jennifer is a lover of all things yummy. After traveling the states for five years, this Mississippi native planted her southern roots in funky, easy-to-love Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she resides with her husband, Phil, and two dogs. She is an avid cook, baker, gardener and creator of all things wonderful. She loves being in the kitchen, gardening, hiking, biking, traveling, yard work, anything DIY, good beer and great food!

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