I cook a lot of pasta in my house. It happens to be my personal favorite comfort food, and I think my family feels the same. So I’m always trying to think of different ways to add bold flavor and a healthy profile to one of our favorite foods.

Orzo comes into play often as a plain side dish, but toasting it first adds such an irresistible nutty, full-flavored quality that I don’t prepare it any other way. Even if simply tossed with butter and fresh Parmesan cheese, toasted orzo is delicious.

In this recipe, I’ve played on the Greek heritage of orzo and borrowed some tastes from the Mediterranean by using chickpeas, cumin, lemon and tangy Feta cheese.

This is great as an easy one-dish salad meal when served over fresh greens.

Toasted Orzo and Chickpea Salad

By Karen
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 cup orzo
3 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup domestic Feta Cheese, crumbled
Baby spinach or arugula greens (optional)

Directions:

Warm a dry 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add the orzo and toast until golden brown and nutty-smelling, tossing the pan frequently. Remove from the heat and cool.

Bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil and cook the orzo according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and transfer to a bowl along with the butter, stirring until butter melts completely.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper; pour over the orzo. Add the chickpeas, nuts and dill to the bowl and gently toss together. Top with the cheese and serve over the greens if desired.

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