If you’ve got a potluck or other occasion that calls for a dish that can be prepared in advance, consider making this orzo salad. In the recipe below, I say it serves 6 as a main dish, but it goes much farther when you are serving it alongside other dishes.
Speaking of potlucks, you know how sometimes luck has it that you end up with a bunch of foods that don't necessarily go so great together? This salad works nicely with a range of dishes. With a mellow tomato base and bright accents of dill, capers, and feta, it stands out your palate without competing against what else is on your plate.
The cooking method is a little unconventional, but very easy. The pasta gets cooked only about halfway, less than al dente. Then the hot dressing is poured over it and the pasta soaks up the flavor while it softens to just the right texture.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Serves 6 as a main dish
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth (you can also use vegetarian broth)
Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound dried orzo pasta
3 tablespoons drained and rinsed capers
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
¼ cup minced fresh dill
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small dice
lemon juice, to taste (I usually use about 2 teaspoons)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- In a saucier or medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook an additional 3 minutes. Whisk in broth, bring to a simmer, and add salt to taste. Allow the tomato broth to simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, cook the pasta halfway, until it is softened on the outside, but still hard in the center.Drain the pasta and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Pour hot tomato dressing over the pasta and stir to combine. Add capers, almonds and most of the cheese and dill. (If not serving immediately, reserve almonds and stir in just before serving.) Stir in remaining olive oil. Add lemon juice and additional salt to taste. Garnish with remaining cheese and dill. Serve at room temperature or chilled.