Summer is here! Warm weather means lots of salads, especially pasta salads. I find pasta salads really easy to make, because lets be honest, in the summer I would rather be outside enjoying the weather. In Chicago you only get a few months of Vitamin D to enjoy.
I usually make my pasta salads on Sundays when we grill out and then eat the leftovers during the week for lunch.
This pasta salad is one that I like making in the summer. I am a big fan of orzo pasta and putting chickpeas in my salads for that added protein. The flavors of this salad mixed with the light dressing and mint make it a refreshing and flavorful dish.
I don’t know about you but I am thankful for summer and all of the salads that come with it!
- ½ cucumber, chopped
- ½ cup feta cheese
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1½ cups orzo
- 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups red teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
- ¾ cup red onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing:
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoons salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- For the salad:
- Put broth in a large pot and cover. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in orzo.
- Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender (6-8 minutes) stirring frequently.
- Drain orzo and place in a large mixing bowl. Let the orzo cool completely.
- While the orzo is cooling make the dressing.
- To make the dressing:
- In a food processor or blender mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper until mixed well.
- While the machine is running gradually add in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the orzo is cooled mix the orzo with the chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, basil and mint.
- Add a ¼ cup of the red wine vinaigrette dressing to the salad and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
- When ready to eat you might want to add the remaining dressing and mix well. I tend to take the salad out of the refrigerator and test the salad to see if it needs additional dressing. When the salad sits it tends to absorb the dressing so it helps to add more.
Make sure you do not add the entire dressing to the salad right away, or it will be too much. I add the ¼ cup of the dressing and let it sit to soak up the dressing. I then taste the salad and if it needs it I will add more.
Adapted from Giada de Laurentis