Summer will soon be here, and my mind is already turning towards all the different salads I can make this season. Salad is one of my favourite things to eat in the summer – whether it be a meal in itself, or as a side dish for something grilled on the barbecue.
And of course, I have to mention meal prep here, because that is what I am all about these days – I made this Mediterranean Orzo Salad for my lunches this past week, and it was delicious! I store each portion in a Mason jar, which keeps it nice and fresh for the whole week. It also makes it a portable lunch too – which is fab if you take your lunches to work.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Just in case you don’t know, orzo is a pasta shaped like a large grain of rice. I love the stuff because it is used in a Greek dish that we used to have when we were children!
This type of salad is so easy to make, and it’s also the sort of dish that you can tweak to your personal preference. The vegetables that I used were aubergine (eggplant), courgette (zuchinni), bell peppers, red onions, sweetcorn (I had half a tin leftover from another recipe!) artichoke hearts, tinned tomatoes and chestnut mushrooms. I also used two types of beans – chick peas, and black eyed beans. For herbs and spices, I used rosemary, mint, oregano, cinnamon, and salt and pepper. You could pick and choose which veggies, beans, and herbs you want to use.
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I roast the vegetables in the oven with the herbs and spice and a splash of olive oil for about 30-40 minutes. When the orzo is cooked I like to season it with lemon juice and olive oil while it is still warm so that it sucks up all the flavours. I then mix everything together with the beans, and portion between the Mason jars. This recipe filled 7 x half litre (16oz) jars. Most of the time I eat it straight from the jar with a spoon – with all the veggies and beans, it’s a filling lunch.
It’s great as a dish on its own, or as a side dish for grilled meat or fish – especially if they are barbecued over hot coals! I have made variations of this salad over the years, and have shared them on my blog:
- Roast Veg & Two Bean Orzo Salad
- Pesto, Orzo & Cannellini Bean Salad
- Roasted Veg & Orzo Salad with Feta
- 1 medium aubergine
- 2 medium courgettes
- 2 bell peppers - your colour choice
- 240g (drained weight) can artichoke hearts
- 2-3 red onions
- 100g mushrooms
- 1 x 200g can sweetcorn
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ - 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- ½ - 1 tbsp dried oregano
- ½ - 1 tbsp dried mint
- ½ - 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
- 200g orzo
- 1-2 x lemons, juiced
- 1-2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x 400g can of black eyed beans (drained)
- 1 x 400g can of chick peas (drained)
- Pre-heat oven to 200C/Gas 6/400F
- Place the prepared vegetables - aubergine, courgettes, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, red onions, mushrooms - and the sweetcorn and chopped tomatoes in a large roasting dish.
- Sprinkle the crushed garlic, herbs, spices, and salt and pepper over the top of the vegetables, and mix together with a large spoon (or your hands) until well combined. You can check a piece of raw veg for flavour, and adjust if you need to. I find that the herbs mellow out in cooking.
- Drizzle over the light olive oil, and place the tray in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally until the vegetables are cooked.
- Meanwhile, cook the orzo in salted boiling water according to the package instructions.
- When cooked, drain and while hot stir through the lemon juice, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Again, you check for flavour and your personal preference.
- Pour the orzo over the vegetables, along with the beans, and mix everything well. You can taste again to adjust the seasoning - more lemon juice, more herbs, more salt, more oil etc.
- If serving warm, you're ready to go. If prepping for the week, allow to cool for half an hour, then divide between 7 x half litre (16oz) jars, and seal tightly. Store in fridge for no more than a week.
Jamie’s Italian brings you their amazing Olive Oil Buyer’s guide. A beautifully crafted guide that tells you all you need to know about this fantastic ingredient. Use as a tasting guide, for cooking suggestions or as a handy manual when shopping for your next meal. As a woman with Greek -Cypriot heritage, it is only natural that I would love olive oil – I use it a lot! I found this infographic an interesting read.
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