Summertime, and the living is easy, at least a little longer.
We love a chilled salad, something packed with flavor that we can enjoy over a few meals without any additional cooking. Pasta salads are always at the top of the list, whether a humble macaroni salad, or colorful pasta primavera. They feed a lot, taste wonderful, and satisfy the comfort food cravings. How could they not, since they begin with pasta!
Draft the littlest pasta into service
At the ready for buffet with friends recently, this salad designed itself. I used lovely little orzo pasta, rice shaped and a bit delicate with a wonderful texture all their own. Because of their tiny size, they also make a great stuffing! For this salad, I rinsed it well under cold water after it was cooked so that it would not be sticky, I wanted a light, summery texture.
Then add a bitter green
I’ve used radicchio leaves here. The bitterness is offset by the honey in the dressing, but if you don’t care for radicchio, or can’t find it, you can substitute Boston lettuce, or any lettuce with a cup-shaped leaf.
Of course, you can also use real rice! Or another grain if you like, make it your own.
These little cups are great on a buffet table, or served as a side. There will be comments! But, you can also skip the cups, and serve this citrusy pasta dish in a salad bowl, or packed for a picnic or potluck! It travels well. If you add a bit of protein (shrimp is great here), you can make it a meal.
Orzo and Radicchio Salad Cups with Honey Lime Dressing
- 1 lb. whole wheat orzo
- 2 carrots, small dice
- 2 heads radicchio
- 4 scallions, sliced
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- Small bunch of sweet radishes, small chop
- ¼ cup fruity olive oil
- 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- Zest of two large limes
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tbsp. native honey
- Handful of cherry tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the orzo. Cook according to package directions, adding the carrots after a couple of minutes. My pasta cooked in 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside to completely cool.
While the pasta cooks, gently remove the leaves from the radicchio, carefully slicing into the base to release the thick part of the leaves. Line a platter with the leaves.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled orzo, carrots, scallions (reserve a few of the dark slices for garnish), radishes, and pumpkin seeds.
Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, zest, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Pour over the salad ingredients, taste, and season again with salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. You may need to add a bit more olive oil, especially if your pasta was not totally cooled.
Scoop the salad into the radicchio, garnish with the tomatoes and reserved scallions. If you don’t feel like fussing with the radicchio cups, just finely shred it and use it as a bed for the salad, or even mix the shreds into the salad!
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