Easy Orzo with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic

    For that past....well, I can't even remember how long it's been - months, let's say, I have had a pound of orzo sitting in the cupboard. I bought it with Weston many moons ago when Bush's was having a sale on pasta and we were sick of spaghetti and thought we'd be ambitious and try to make something with orzo. But here's the thing with orzo - it can't take heavy sauces - so things like Mac and Cheese or a simple meat sauce are just too overpowering. And since we both are BIG mac and cheese people, we never got around to our little experiment.

    But since I am by myself now, I take great joy in tying up loose recipe ends such as this. So, thank you to Nino, the head chef of the villa I stayed at in Italy, for being the inspiration for the following recipe. I think I found the perfect meal for any occasion - from a summertime BBQ to a family gathering crowd pleaser.

    FYI: this recipe makes A LOT - probably 8 to 10 servings worth so cut it in half if making for less, or invite a whole bunch of friends over for a potluck :)

    What you need -

    1 pound orzo - cooked in salted boiling water until just soft to the bite
    2-3 large cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 Tbs (or more if you'd like) good olive oil - a light, a fruity olive oil would be good, nothing too heavy
    10 slices sun-dried tomatoes, packaged in oil and reconstituted in boiling water until soft
    1 package cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
    1 block feta (8 oz) - I like French - cut into medium-small cubes
    juice of about 1 small lemon
    1 can Northern Beans
    *optional: any leafy herb you have on hand: basil or flat-leafed parsley would be best, 4 or 5 hard-boiled eggs cut into teeny pieces

    Make the orzo and set aside to cool.

    Add all the mix-ins - no dressing yet.

    Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice and olive oil - amount adjusted to your liking. Add the spices and pour over the pasta.

    The dressing will seep into the pasta over time, so I like to do a preliminary coating and then coast with more dressing before serving, so you get two punches of flavor.


    Please please please do not take this dish and throw on some of that Kraft ready-made balsamic or Italian style vinaigrette. Nothing against Kraft but it just makes the dish taste...artificial. You'd be surprised how wonderful a little olive oil and lemon juice are together.

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