Monday, May 20, 2013

Orzo & Artichoke Pasta Salad

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Yes, it is that time of year again...
Kids activities, weekend at cottages/camps, get togethers.  This all leads to very little time in the kitchen, and let's face it, who wants to be in the kitchen when it's nice outside?  Surely not me!!  

Alas we fall back to salads as our backup.  An awesome dinner can be made in no time with a quick grill of meats or seafood and a salad.  It is very common to find at least 2-3 different salads in my fridge during the summer months.  It's my old "standby" I say!!  However, variety is "the spice of life", so we have to have different salads because you know, you get bored.  Well at least "I" do if I keep making the same one... I know!!

This salad is one of our favorites.  You can make it as lemony as you want, but I like a nice balance in the vinaigrette between the lemon and olive oil.  Next you add in that amazing garlic and fresh parsley... toss with artichokes.  See I knew I could get your attention!!
What you end up with is a light refreshing, pasta salad.  Again no use of mayonnaise, so it will be perfect to bring to a picnic, potluck what have you that everyone will love!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 7-9 minutes
Yield: 8-10 sides

1lb (16 ounces) orzo pasta
1 can (15 ounces) artichoke hearts (in water or frozen, thawed) 
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas

1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed 
1/3 - 1/2 cup olive oil (I used extra virgin)
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

*Parmesan cheese - optional*

-Cook orzo pasta according to directions.

-While pasta is cooking, open, drain and rinse your artichoke hearts.  Roughly dice and set aside.

-Chop your green onions and your parsley, set aside.  Crush your garlic - I literally used a mortar & pestle to crush the garlic for this. Such an awesome device, who knew??  Set aside.

-Zest your lemon and juice both the lemons, set aside.

-If using Parmesan cheese, I would grate about 1/3 cup now, not forgetting to shave off a tiny piece for yourself, ok, maybe 2 tiny pieces.  What?

-In a mason jar, or container of choice, add all your vinaigrette ingredients, shake well, taste for seasonings and tartness, set aside.

-Add your frozen or fresh peas to the orzo about 1 minute before the orzo is completely done.

-Drain your orzo, return to the pan.  Toss well with the vinaigrette and finally add your roughly chopped artichoke.  That is after you have snuck just a tiny, smidgen of artichoke for yourself... it is afterall artichoke, hello!

-Place in a pretty bowl, top off with Parmesan cheese if so desired.

This amazingly easy salad will easily keep in the fridge for about a week.  It is so light and refreshing!  Did I mention how easy too?  I didn't?
I also love that it goes with pretty much any meat or seafood...
It's a win-win I say!

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Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi