Easy Orzo Salad

Two servings of Orzo salad on salad plates and served outside.
Thanks to my aunt, Marian, who was glad to pass along her recipe for my blog. This is a favorite for potlucks and parties at her house.  She calls it "Frog's Eye Salad" and once you start mixing it you'll see why. No matter how hard you try to keep them separate, the peas find their way into the olives and, well, they look like cartoon frog eyes to me!

If you're trying to get a kid interested in cooking, this colorful salad is a good first choice. Depending on the age of the child, you may want to take over pasta cooking duty, but save saying, "frogs eyes" for the kid. 

With apologies to my aunt, I confess that I made some changes to her original. Since everything was in season, I had the opportunity to use fresh peas and heirloom tomatoes, but you can also use frozen peas and a juicy beefsteak tomato. As always, stick to locally grown organic vegetables. I didn't add the shrimp, since we were serving it with grilled prawns but I served crumbled feta cheese on the side.


Time: 1 hour
Level: Easy
Yield: Serves 10 - 12

Image of multi-colored heirloom tomatoes sliced.1 1/2 cup orzo pasta (uncooked)
1 1/2 cups miniature heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, yellow and orange, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
1 cucumber, chopped bite size
3/4 cup black olives, sliced
1 lb bay shrimp (optional)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Image of thinly sliced red onions on a cutting boardSalt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2  tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
2  tsp fresh basil, finely chopped

Image of a bag of organic, fresh peas.
Mix the dressing and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.

In a large salad bowl, combine all fresh ingredients. Set aside while you boil the pasta. Follow the directions on the pasta, be careful not to over cook. As soon as it is al dente, or somewhat firm, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking and cool the pasta. The flavors develop nicely if the pasta is still warm, not hot, when you mix the salad.
Cucumbers sliced bite-sized and ready for the salad.
Add the orzo to the fresh vegetables and mix to combine. Add 1/2 the dressing and stir to lightly cover the salad. Serve the remaining dressing with the salad and let people add more if they prefer. If you add shrimp, do that just before serving.

Easy Orzo Salad served family style in a large, deep bowl.Mixing fresh ingredientsAdding the olives and peas

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