My husband Tony is Greek, I’m Italian and we have always followed a Mediterranean diet. We eat large amounts of organic fruits and veggies and our protein comes from, beans, nuts, fish, chicken and very little beef. I do serve pasta at least twice a week as a main meal or as a side dish. (It’s in my blood, I have to have it!) One of the side dishes I love to serve is Orzo Pasta with fresh herbs, wild arugula, peppery watercress, and sweet summer baby Roma or cherry tomatoes. The dressing is made with a green, fruity extra virgin olive oil, and fresh citrusy lemons. I included my shallot vinaigrette in the recipe below!
Orzo pasta is great plain with olive oil, lemons, chopped parsley, and salt. Or as a side dish with grilled fish, chicken or beef. You can also use grilled vegetables, add nuts and cheese such as Greek Feta or Goat cheese. It’s a perfect dish to serve on a buffet or bring to a picnic because it doesn’t break down or get gummy.
CREAMY SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE
Makes 1 cup
In a blender add Dijon mustard, and olive oil, blend for 30 seconds to emulsify. Pour into a bowl and add shallots, champagne vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Whisk to blend all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy.
This is a lovely dressing for salads that are tender such as Butter Lettuce, baby greens, arugula, and tomatoes.
It also makes a great marinade for chicken, turkey, and fish.
8 ounces orzo pasta
1 medium Persian cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1-15 ounce can navy beans drained and rinsed well
2 cups baby Roma tomatoes sliced in half top to bottom or cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 Tablespoons red onion chopped small
1 scallion chopped small
8 fresh basil leaves rolled tightly and sliced into thin ribbons
12 Kalamata olives
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped coarsely
¼ cup Italian parsley chopped small
½ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup shallot vinaigrette
½ cup Greek or French Feta cheese, crumbled
½ fresh lemon cut into rounds then in half and garnish over the top.
Cook the orzo according to the package directions. Don’t forget to salt the water. (4 quarts of water add 1 Tablespoon of salt.) Drain and rinse well in cool running water.
Add the next 10 ingredients and mix together.
Add vinaigrette, mix well. Sprinkle over the feta and more cracked pepper on top.