Families resemble each other in so many ways…
Sometimes it’s simple biology…
Sometimes it’s because you’ve lived, loved, and laughed together for so long…
And sometimes, similarities don’t show up until years later when you’ve been living apart.
Daughter Krissa and I have the ‘apple-tree’ phenomenon going on in so many ways, one of which is our love for the flavours of Greek cuisine. Both of us discovered this long after Krissa left home. Somehow, both of us, on our own, had the opportunity of a taste … and knew we were fans of anything Greek.
In one of the first dinners that Krissa, as an independent home-owner, cooked for us, she prepared the most delicious Greek Orzo Salad. She had me at the first bite.
So, it was inevitable that when she joined us in our home to celebrate Christmas this year, Greek Orzo Salad would be on the menu, and I would acquire her recipe.
As she shared her recipe, it was clear that she was following all of the ‘rules’ of a true Greek Salad (see Greek Salad), and the extra layer of texture and flavour from the lemon-infused orzo simply made it exquisite.
One of the advantages of a Greek Orzo Salad is that it can be made the day before serving.
As usual, using fresh high-quality ingredients will result in a beautiful salad that you will want to present on your table over and over again.
Greek Orzo Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes + refrigerator time
Cooking Time: 10 Minutes
Number of Servings: 6
1 ½ cups (10 oz) dry orzo
3-4 tablespoons (45-60 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon zest
Freshly ground black or white pepper
¾ cup (185 mL) olive oil, preferably Greek
1 ½ cups (375 mL) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1 cup (250 mL) Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
½ of an English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped red onion
1 cup (6 oz/170 g) feta cheese, small-dice, or crumbled
1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt; freshly ground pepper
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo to the ‘al dente’ stage (about 10 minutes). Drain through a colander and give it a very quick rinse with cold water.
2. While orzo is cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, pepper, and olive oil.
3. Place the warm orzo (drained and rinsed) in a large bowl and pour over about ½ cup of the lemon-oil mixture. Stir to combine. Save the remaining lemon-oil mixture to add when you stir in the other ingredients.
4. Allow the orzo mixture to cool down and marinate in the refrigerator until well chilled, 2-3 hours.
5. Stir in the prepared tomato halves, green pepper pieces, chopped olives, cucumber chunks, and feta cheese. Stir to combine. Add the remaining lemon-oil mixture.
6. Refrigerate for an additional hour, or more …..or overnight.
7. Just before serving, gently fold in the fresh herbs. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
8. Garnish with extra crumbled feta cheese, dried oregano, and fresh basil.
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