I know summer is here when all I want to eat is salad. I love it, I need it and I start replacing cooked vegetables with crunchy fresh vegetables. I have also recently fallen in love with orzo or Rosmarino – the rice like pasta grains. I mean I have obviously eaten them before but have never loved them hot as a side to other dishes. I find the texture somewhat ‘slimy,’ and as pastas go, I find it ineffective in soaking up the sauce. Its kind of ok in a soup – to bulk up and make more hearty, but when its cold and added to loads of crunchy textures and flavour packed vinaigrettes, it really starts to shine.
This is a salad I am making a lot of lately. Well, permutations of it. I love the addition of pesto to coat the orzo as the base of the salad and then I add all the other things. The red onions should be sliced so finely that you don’t detect any harsh flavours, and I always use a mandolin on the thinnest possible setting. Sliced sugar snap peas give the salad the big crunch factor which is essential. Sliced cherry tomatoes go beautifully with the pesto and need to be very rip and sweet. They also need to be seasoned well, so don’t be afraid to keep adding good sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper as you go. I love using Bocconcini mozzarella which I slice into wedges. Once again the perfect partnership to the basil and tomatoes. I have also crumbled feta in which adds saltiness.
I make a basic vinaigrette of olive oil and red or white wine vinegar just to brighten it up, and at the end I like to throw in few flavour packed leaves like fresh basil, rocket, watercress or rocket. This adds herbaciousness which is lovely.
So hello summer and hello to tons of salads.
* Cooks notes ~ Add more or less pesto as it all depend on what you are using. I always have a very high quality pesto like Pesto Princess on hand to add to things. Play around with the vegetables too. Peppers, carrots, zucchini and peas are fabulous to add.
Recipe – makes enough for 2 as a main meal or 4 – 6 as a side
- 1 cup orzo (Rosmarino pasta)
- 4 Tbsp pesto
- 1/2 large red onion, very finely sliced
- 2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes
- 125g sugar snap peas
- 120 gm bocconcini (5 balls)
- small handful basil, rocket or watercress
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
- sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the orzo according to packet instructions, drain and refresh under cold water. Set aside.
Slice the onion very thinly and place at the bottom of the bowl. add the vinegar and olive oil. All this to soak for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and the pesto and mix well. Seas on to taste.
Add all the other ingredients, toss and season again to taste.
A few more salads that I love: