Frugal Foodie Mama: Italian Basil Orzo Salad

Monday, July 22, 2013

Italian Basil Orzo Salad

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I thought I would share my recipe for this gorgeous Italian Basil Orzo Salad with you all this week since it was specially requested by my mother that I make this while we are at the beach this week.  
Yes, my friends.  We are taking a family vacation and soaking up the rays.  
It is a MUCH needed family vacation. :)

But do not worry.  I will not leave the blog empty and sad this week!
I have a couple more delicious summer inspired salad recipe posts coming your way this week, plus a couple of sand & sea themed posts- they only seemed appropriate given my locale for the next 6 days or so. 

I originally made this Italian Basil Orzo Salad for our 4th of July cookout, and it was huge hit with my family.  I think my mother was maybe 3 bites into this salad when she said, "You have to make this while we are at the beach."
Of course, I will oblige my mama. ;)

I used a tomato basil flavored feta in this salad that I happened to find at my local ALDI.  If you cannot find a flavored feta, plain feta will work just fine in this salad.  The basil dressing is packed with tons of freshness and flavor...

Italian Basil Orzo Salad

by Frugal Foodie Mama
Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (6 servings)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 slices and then quartered
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium sweet banana pepper, halved, seeded, & chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced and then chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (I used a tomato basil feta cheese that I found at my local ALDI.)
For the basil dressing
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed, & roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
Combine the chicken broth and water in a medium sauce pan, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the orzo. Cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring 2-3 times.
Drain the orzo and immediately rinse with cold water. Transfer the orzo to a large bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

While the orzo is chilling, roast your zucchini. In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini chunks, the 1 tbsp olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. Spread out onto a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, stirring once about halfway through.
Once roasted, set aside and allow to cool completely.

Once your orzo has chilled, add in the cucumber, banana pepper, red onion, grape tomatoes, the feta cheese, and the cooled zucchini. Toss together and then set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend together the garlic, lemon juice, basil leaves, and salt. Then slowly add in the olive oil and continue blending until well combined. Pour the basil dressing over the orzo/veggies mixture.
Toss well.

Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
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This Italian Basil Orzo Salad is just like taking a big ole bite out of summer.  I am happy to say that the sweet banana pepper and basil I used in this salad came from my very own garden.  I am looking forward to making this again soon now that I also have cherry tomatoes and cucumbers almost ready in my garden.  

Do you have a favorite pasta salad or salad you like to make when summer has rolled around?