Mediterranean Orzo Salad

I’m finally back on track with the blog people.

I’ve been running around like crazy (as always) but this time, I was getting ready for my first vacation with Dave in a year and a half!!  We just returned late last night and I cannot wait to tell you all about it soon.  Our trip took us to Seattle and Vancouver… and was full of lots of fun sightseeing, exploring, family time, and of course good food & drink.

The view from our run in Vancouver.  Absolutely gorgeous!  Worth torturing myself for a few miles while on vacation...

The view from our run in Vancouver. Absolutely gorgeous! Worth torturing myself for a few miles while on vacation…

I just wanted to make you really jealous and give you a preview… this beautiful picture was taken on our run along the beach one morning in Vancouver.  How gorgeous?

Feeling selfish lately after basically neglecting you all, I thought it’d be only fair to give you a new recipe today… a really awesome one.  I saw this recipe on a blog that I’m just loving, it’s called Iowa Girl Eats.  Check it out!  I think Kristin’s pictures on her blog are absolutely amazing.  Anyway, I saw her Mediterranean Orzo Salad in March and realized that I had all of the ingredients at home… my favorite type of recipe.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Makes 4 Servings as a side dish

Ingredients:
4oz Orzo
1 handful Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 5oz container Reduced Fat Feta Crumbles
1/4 cup Olives, sliced 
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped (I used my handy dandy freeze-dried herbs again)
2 Tablespoons Capers
1/4 cup Lemon Juice (2 Lemons)
1 teaspoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
1/4 cup EVOO or other Oil (grapeseed)
Directions:
1.  Cook Orzo in a large pot of salted water, boiling until al dente as the box instructs.  Drain, set aside.
2.  Make the dressing.  Whisk or blend the lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper (pinches of each, taste test).  Slowly drizzle in the oil while pulsing the blender or whisking if you’re not using the blender.  
3.  Combine tomatoes, feta, olives, parsley, and capers in a large bowl.  Add cooked orzo and the dressing.  Toss to combine.  
*This can be served warm or room temp.  Also, if you’re planning on not eating right away, save some dressing on the side so you can top it off before you’re ready to eat it.  The pasta will probably have soaked up a lot overnight.*

Recipe slightly adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats

photo 1 (15)

I decided to make this to eat as a side for both lunch and dinner.  It was a delicious change of pace for us, since I rarely ever make pasta salads.  The pasta salad had such great flavor from the freshness of the lemon juice and the salty from the olives and capers.  Yummy, simple yet special.

You should be warned though that I don’t like my pasta salad drenched in oil, so I halved the oil that the original recipe calls for.  If you don’t like yours on the dry side, I’d recommend doubling the dressing.

Be on the lookout for my post in the next week or so about our trip!

 

Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup

Although Philly has had its mildest winter in my memory… I still am craving SOUP.  Two weeks ago, I took a stab at Tomato Balsamic Soup which turned out to be fantastic.  This week, I decided to make a chicken broth based soup to keep things on the lighter side.

Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup

Recipe modified from:  Cooking Light

Makes 4 Servings , <300 Calories per serving

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon EVOO

3 cloves Garlic

2 thinly sliced Green Onions

4 cups Fat-Free Chicken Broth (Better than Bouillon)

2 cups Water (depending on how much broth you like!  I added another cup)

¾ cups uncooked Orzo

1 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Rind

1 (15oz) can Low-Salt Chickpeas, drained

1 Tablespoon chopped Italian Parsley (fresh)

1 Tablespoon chopped Cilantro (Fresh)

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

½ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

1/8 teaspoon Salt (don’t use if you use regular chicken broth)

1 (6oz) package Fresh Baby Spinach

1 Tablespoon Grated Romano Cheese (or parmesan)

Directions:

1.  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add garlic and green onions, sauté for 30 seconds while stirring.  Add chicken broth and water; bring to a boil.

2.  Add orzo, lemon rind, and chickpeas.  Cover and cook 10 minutes or until orzo is done.

3.  Stir in parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and spinch (everything else but the cheese!)

4.  Ladle 1 ¾ cups soup into 4 bowls.  Top each serving with a sprinkle of cheese.

This soup was awesome!  I enjoyed the flavor of the lemon with the chicken broth.  If I make When I make this next, I will use less orzo.  I am a broth-kinda-girl and prefer my soups to be more soupy than hearty.  I received no complaints so everything else I’d probably keep the same!  Sidenote:  I think this is the first recipe I’ve ever cooked that Dave didn’t feel the need to add hot sauce or cayenne pepper.  SUCCESS!!

We ended up eating smaller portions of the soup so I could save some for lunches, and made a delicious Hoisin-Glazed Salmon with Steamed Asparagus to go along.

I used salt&pepper, garlic, black sesame seeds, hoisin sauce, and Wegman's Asian Garlic Sauce then baked the salmon in the oven. Voila!

What a great meal!