School’s out for summer – and though technically we are still in spring, the warm days we’ve been having in Petaluma seem to indicate otherwise. I’ve spent four out of the last five days by the pool, and completely unwilling to cook anything that requires a lengthy amount of standing over a hot stove. In instances like this, I turn to quick and easy salads like this orzo salad, inspired by a cafe I used to buy my lunch from when I worked in San Francisco. The flavors work remarkably well together and though this salad is served cold or at room temperature, this flavor combination would probably be great as a hot dish too. The beauty of this is that you can get all the ingredients here at Trader Joe’s, and you will use the entire quantity of anything that comes in the jar or can, but the quantities can generally be adjusted according to your taste.
Summer Orzo Salad
16 oz. orzo, uncooked
1 – 8.5oz. can julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1 – 15 oz. can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 jar kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned
Salt and pepper
Cook the orzo according to package directions and drain, dress with a drizzle of olive oil so that the grains don’t stick together as they cool.
In a large bowl, mix the orzo with the chopped tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, and olive oil. Mix well. You can add the oil that the sundried tomatoes were packed in as well. Add cheese, basil, and lemon juice just before serving, salt and pepper to taste. Voila! Enough for a picnic!