Summer Orzo Salad

PUBLISHED ON: 04.21.2011

Hello Summer!  For those that are still fighting snow drifts and having trouble breaking 50 degrees. Welcome to Florida.  Except for the summer gardens that are exploding, we are already over the heat, and its not even summer yet.

This pasta salad made with orzo is one of my favorite summer cold salads.  I have been making it for family and friends, for what seems like forever, and it has never disappointed me.

During the summer months a good fresh salad means that your meal is never far from the table.

Summer Orzo Salad
Serves 6-8

1 cup orzo
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1- 14 ounce can artichoke hearts (not packed in oil), drained
1-14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 cups chopped vine ripened tomatoes (about 2 large)
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool.  Press to remove excess water.  Transfer to a large bowl and toss with olive oil.
With a chef’s knife, mash garlic and salt into a paste.  Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in lemon juice and pepper.  Set the dressing aside.
Gently squeeze excess moisture from artichoke hearts, and cut length-wise into eighths.  Add to orzo along with chickpeas, onion, olives, feta, dill, mint and reserved dressing.  Toss gently to combine.
Add tomatoes and toss again.

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