Monday, May 30, 2011

Greek Summer Orzo Salad




















Is it a Summer, Greek Orzo Salad or a Greek Summer Orzo Salad? It's all about your interpretation on the matter and how well your imagination is in working order. I like to think this is a  Greek Summer Salad because in my  imagination  spur of the moment whim to jump into my leer jet and fly to my summer home in Greece (have I mentioned that before?) this is what all the locals are eating on their white-washed balconies overlooking the pristine blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. 




Ahhhhh, this is the perfect mix of flavors for tickling your taste buds without  over indulging yourself. I just love all of the wonderful flavors that are involved in Greek and Mediterranean foods:  Lemon, olives, oregano, feta, grapes, apricots, tomato, spinach, fish and olive oil. All on my Top 10 favorite ingredient list. Oh, that is 10! Exactly.





This pasta salad is pretty enough to take to a back yard barbecue or party.





feta cheese


It's no wonder that Mediterranean food is considered to be one of the healthiest out there. People who live in this region tend to eat a diet high in fat, but they also have a much lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer than people in other parts of the world. Contrary to popular belief, eating certain types of fats with every meal is not only good for you but essential to a healthy, whole diet. For instance, the use of olive oil rather than other fats such as margarine or vegetable oil is good for your cardiovascular system and brain function. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that keeps your arteries healthy and your body lean and healthy.


photo and more info on healthy monounsaturated fats found here at Salut Wine


The whole Mediterranean diet, not just the olive oil is contributed to the healthy and happy lives of the people who live in this area. Typical Mediterranean foods are also very high in fiber and antioxidants from vegetables, legumes and nuts,  much higher than the typical Western diet and very low in saturated {bad} fat. Very little red meat is eaten in this region and milk consumption is limited as well, except for some cheese and yogurt.



I found this wonderful pasta salad at AJ's many years ago and set out to make it at home, for a fraction of the cost I might add. While orzo may look like a rice, it's actually a tiny pasta. It's simple to throw together and the tangy flavors of the dressing and feta are addicting. You'll find yourself craving this healthy salad and maybe even having a little late night snack so make sure to make enough for leftovers.





SERVES   6-8      TIME   20 minutes

Ingredients:

1, 16 oz package of Orzo
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half length wise
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup Kalmata olives sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup feta, crumbled
1-2 tablespoons dried Greek Oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped plus more for garnish
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-4 tablespoons white wine vinegar or juice from Kalmata olive jar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt


Putting it all together:

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and salt. Set aside.

Drain Pasta and let cool. When cool, add tomatoes, olives, spinach, parsley and onion, toss to combine. Drizzle dressing over top and toss to coat. Add feta last so it doesn't completely break apart and toss gently to mix together. The dressing will wilt the spinach a little which is what you want.

Serve warm or cold.



This post is linked to

Mom's Crazy Cooking
Tasty Tuesday's

14 comments:

  1. I'm so with you on the Med. fare. It's so healthy, fresh, rich and full of flavor. I could simply gorge myself on green olives, into next week. I love them, adore them.

    This salad is perfect for summer. I love pasta salads, but I like light ones like this. Not the heavy mayo ones. ick. I've been cutting recipes down that call for mayo with yogurt or light sour cream.

    Great info and great ideas as usual, my dear. So wish we could hang out...

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  2. I said yummmmm... at least 5 times while reading this

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  3. Oooh,This looks absolutely tasty! I'm a huge fan of pasta and your lovely orzo salad are making my mouth water :)

    Have a great week,

    Aldy.

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  4. I love this sort of food! And you are right, Greek people are so healthy because of all those good fats and oils.

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  5. WOW! I has been a while I heard someone cooking with orzo.. Wonderful recipe!

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  6. Looks like this will be a HUGE HUGE hit around my house. The girls love feta, olives, tomatoes and orzo....you're reading my mind again aren't you? Come on...admit it!

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  7. Jessica, your so funny. ;) I'm a mommy, so I guess I am a bit of a mind reader... pre-requisite I'm afraid.;) So funny your kids like those things, mine do too! It really reinterates my belief that your kids will eat the foods they are given if you continue to give it to them withoug 'distraction' foods like sweets as options.

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  8. This looks yummy....you have a lovely blog...I am having a giveaway in my blog..Y dont you check and join that
    http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/2011/05/chocolate-recipe-and-chocolate.html

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  9. Gosh - I have to go and make this right now - I really don't think there is anything better that incredible feta and wonderful olive oil -lovely, lovely recipe
    Mary

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  10. Hi Gwen, this orzo dish looks absolutely delicious. I come from a long line of olive lovers and Greek salad is one of my favourites.... thank you.

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  11. Back up. You have a SUMMER HOUSE in GREECE. Could i be more jealous? Doubtful.

    I may just stow myself away in your bags when you go. So don't be surprised.

    I think the whole attitude about food is what makes the people in the Mediterranean healthier. There's so much more of an appreciation for homemade meals and sitting at the table with family.

    This looks delicious!

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  12. HaaHaa Joanne, in my imagination I have a summer home in Greece but you can hop in my pretend luggage and come with me anytime! and I totally agree w you about the importance of good, family meals.

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  13. This looks amazing! I could eat that entire brick of Feta! I make something similar and I eat the entire dish!!!

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  14. Looks beautiful and light! Yum!

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