January 14, 2013

Orzo, Spinach and Feta Salad

Orzo, Spinach and Feta SaladIf you’re like me, you let last weekend's gloomy New York skies discourage you from kickboxing, going jean shopping and doing laundry.  Instead, you watched episodes of Lost that you’ve already seen, suffered through a good chunk of the Miss America pageant, flipped through US Weekly and waited for your homemade pickled carrots to pickle.  You’re excited because they pickled nicely with a perfect balance of astringency and sweetness.  You might have also eaten way too much pizza and a few too many slices of last week’s date cake.  Oh wait, that was my weekend.
Orzo, Spinach and Feta Salad
If you also spent your weekend binging and lounging, then I suggest that you join me for a week's worth of healthy (and tastebud-friendly) salad.  This one is inspired by the orzo salad that I’ve been getting from Whole Foods at least once a year for the past 15 years. The version below, as per my waistline’s request, is heavier on the spinach and lighter on the olive oil and cheese, but you can adjust the main ingredients in this foolproof recipe to your liking.   It holds up well in the fridge for many days so it’s a great salad to make a bunch of and bring to work throughout the week. 


Makes 4 large servings

3/4 cup dried orzo pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
4 loosely packed cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
10 large mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt
12 turns freshly cracked black pepper
1.  Soak the diced onion in a small bowl of water.

2.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (your water should be as salty as chicken soup).  Add in the orzo and cook for the time stated on the package.  When pasta is done cooking, drain it and let it cool to room temperature.

3.  In a small saute pan over low/medium heat, toast the nuts until they are golden brown (don’t take your eyes off the pan because nuts burn fast and if you’re using pine nuts, you know they aren’t cheap!)

4.  Drain the onions.  In a very large mixing bowl, toss the cooled pasta with all the other ingredients.  Serve.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 


  1. Orzo is one of my favourite pastas to work with in a tasty salad.

  2. Mmmm! I love orzo. It's got such a light but creamy texture, it's unlike any other pastas/grains/whatever it technically is. This salad looks like it's bursting with flavor - I definitely need to take it easy this week, as I've been unable to kick the holiday eating habits I developed over the past couple of months!

  3. Me too bellini! It has such a nice bite. Hiya Sydney, I hear ya, I haven't started any of my resolutions yet, but sometimes weaning back to balance is better than going cold turkey. I know I won't be able to pass up office bagel breakfast tomorrow, that's for sure. Happy 2013!

  4. I just made this for the upcoming weeks lunch. I like that it's light on the olive oil. I tasted it before I added the oil and lemon juice, and almost decided to skip it all together.

    Great recipe. Thanks!

  5. Oh great Rachel, so glad you liked it! It has so much good stuff in it that you can definitely go light on the dressing and try a bunch of variations. So glad you stopped by!