Summer salads are so boring. A combination of what’s around with mayo or mustard. Why not do something more interesting. Both taste wise and visually.
This salad can be made in advance keeping the orzo and the remaining ingredients and dressing separate until serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings and be easily multiplied for a crowd.
Ingredients and Directions:
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed (about 3 ounces)
- 3/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese
- 1/2 cup diced red peppers
- 12 fresh basil leaves, torn
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (see Note below)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper<!–
Note: To make toasted pine nuts, put raw pine nuts in a dry skillet pan. Over a medium heat, dry saute them and stir constantly. Saute for about 5 minutes. The pine nuts will burn easily so keep an eye on them.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook to the lower range of minutes on the directions (e.g., if the package says “8-10 minutes”, cook to 8 minutes). Drain pasta and put the pasta on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle the pasta with 3 tablespoons olive oil, toss, spread out, and cool in the refrigerator.
Once the orzo is cool, transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the spinach, crumbled ricotta salata cheese, red peppers, basil leaves and toasted pine nuts.
Using a whisk and a small bowl, make a vinaigrette with the 1/4 cup of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and salt. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.