This Colorful Crunchy Orzo Vegetable Salad is a happy coincidence.
My beloved had a group coming over for a dinner meeting. He didn’t have much time to prepare and scrambled to throw together a decent spread. I decided to help.
After putting together a cheese plate, a lettuce salad, bread, and slices of my Orange Olive Oil Upside Down Cake, we needed one more dish. Grabbing an opened bag of orzo and several vegetables, I improvised. While flavor is crucial when combining ingredients, color is important, too. After all, we eat with our eyes, as the saying goes. Luckily I had bright green (from parsley) and red bell pepper to start. Then, I considered my two ears of corn. Sure the yellow would be a great addition, color-wise. But how would it go with the orzo?
Orzo is pasta, in other words, a carb. Even though corn has good fiber, normally I just think of its carbohydrates. Now, even though my beloved is an Irish American, the more-carbs-the merrier kind of guy, I’m not into loading up a single dish with multiple carbs. Still, I watched the clock and realized that I had to move fast. So I microwaved the corn and threw it in with the other vegetables.
Finally, unlike most pasta salads, I decided that this one would not have dressing. Not even a light one. But grated cheese would be perfect.
A sidenote – I’m in a mixed marriage when it comes to grated cheese, My beloved prefers Pecorino Romano, while I go for Parmigana Reggiano or Grana Padana. The differences are sometimes subtle, but here’s a good rundown. You can use either or a mix, but for heaven’s sakes, don’t use that awful, pre-grated stuff sold in a shaker jar.
Six ingredients (not counting the salt and pepper) aren’t difficult to pull together.
And when the result is this pretty, you’ll be singing as you chop and mix.
Colorful Crunchy Orzo Vegetable Salad is light and crisp. While it is flavorful, it won’t overwhelm other dishes in a summery meal. And it’s great the next day – or made ahead of time.
I had hoped for leftovers after the meeting. But there weren’t any. So I made another batch just for me. And since then, I’ve glanced longingly at my basil plant, thinking about adding a few leaves to this salad next time I make it. Guess that means it’s going into the regular rotation this summer.
Colorful Crunchy Orzo Vegetable Salad
A summery mix of vegetables, orzo, and cheese.
- 4 ounces orzo
- 2 ears fresh corn (on the cob)
- 1 handful flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped fine
- 2-3 tablespoons chives, sweet onion, shallots, or scallions (green part) - finely chopped
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
Cook the orzo in boiling water per the manufacturer's directions. When done, immediately cool under cold water in a strainer and let the orzo drain. Leave it moist but not wet. Set aside.
While the orzo is cooking, microwave the corn in the husk for about 4 minutes or a bit less, turning halfway through. Let sit in the husk for another 4-5 minutes, then peel off the husk, cut the corn off the cob, and set aside to cool.
Mix the vegetables and orzo together, add the cheese and mix again. Then add the salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least one hour, then taste. Add more cheese if desired, and/or salt and pepper.