I enjoy making salads during the summer that I keep on hand to make meals easier. I love pasta salads, especially ones using orzo. This one was inspired by my herb garden. I had an abundance of oregano and marjoram, so I thought I would use those in a pasta salad. I am not a huge fan of mayonaise, so I do more with olive oils and vinegars. This salad also incorporates soft goat cheese which blends in to become part of the dressing. This salad does not have a lot of dressing, so it's not very saucy. I really liked the ease of preparation and the flavor was fabulous. My husband gave it a thumbs up. Hope you enjoy it as well.
- 16 ounces orzo pasta
- 1 cup pitted & chopped kalamata olive
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup chopped roasted red sweet pepper
- 4 ounces creamy plain goat cheese
- 8 ounces of newman's own balsamic vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon loose chives
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon basil leaves
- 1⁄3 cup fresh purple basil leaves
- olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook orzo according to directions for al dente. I used Garafalo brand orzo and it cooks perfectly in 9 minutes.
- While orzo is cooking, chop the red onion, Kalamata olives and Roasted Red Peppers. I don't chop too finely, but that is a matter of personal choice.
- Once the orzo is done, drain it and put it into a large work bowl.
- While orzo is hot, add 1/4 of the bottle of Newmans's Balsamic Vinaigrette. Stir.
- Next, while the orzo is still hot, add the goat cheese. IF the cheese comes in a log, you may want to slice it before adding. Blend.
- It's important to add the goat cheese while the orzo is hot. This allows it to blend and become part of the dressing. It takes a few minutes to make sure the goat cheese and dressing blend well. There will not be a lot of sauce. The pasta may be a bit dry at this point.
- Once the goat cheese is all blended, add the olives, onion and peppers. Mix well.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Salad will not be very wet. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Gather the fresh herbs, rinse them and finely chop. You should have about 1/4 cup once all the herbs are finely chopped.
- Add the herbs to the salad and blend.
- Add another 1/4 of the bottle of balsamic dressing and mix.
- Salt & pepper to taste. I don't use too much salt as I feel the olives can be somewhat salty.
- You can add a bit more olive oil if needed. I usually add a few splashes at the end.
- This salad is not dripping in dressing. If you prefer more liquid, feel free to use more of the balsamic dressing.
- I let this salad rest for a few hours for flavors to meld.
- I think it is best served at room temperature.
- Feel free to experiment with whatever herbs you like or have on hand. I think the key is to use fresh herbs for this salad.