Cold Salad for a Hot Day

Today was a very nice cool day.  I am most appreciative of that fact, because the previous days were mad hot here, no breezes, and of course my air conditioner was broken.  As in "that part that costs almost as much as a whole new unit" broke.  So we are in the process of interviewing installers and comparing apples and oranges to see what central air product will be installed by which pro.  Hopefully a decision will be made soon and mucho dollars will be shoveled into the installer's truck transferred over in exchange for cool dry air.

But just in case the temperature starts to rise again, I need a nice cool recipe to make and share.  This particular nice cool recipe is from Fast & Festive meals for the Jewish Holidays by Marlene Sorosky (1997).   It comes together relatively quickly (of course, duh, otherwise it would have been in a book called Slow Ungapatch Meals).  Warning:  this recipe makes a ton, so it is a great item for large families or a Hadassah Paid-Up potluck meeting without any adjustments (our chapter's dinners are always milchig, your meeting mileage may vary).

If you only have oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in your pantry, reduce the amount of olive oil a bit or you will be swimming in grease.

When I make this for my family, I leave out the red pepper (family doesn't care for it).

You don't have to toast the pine nuts, but it really makes a difference in the taste.

And because feta cheese tends to be a bit salty, please taste before adding any additional salt.

Orzo Salad with Feta & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Makes 12-14 servings

1 lb. box of dried orzo
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ozs.) feta cheese
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
20 sun-dried tomatoes (rehydrated by soaking in very hot water until soft), diced
1 cup (about 3 ozs.) tightly packed fresh spinach leaves, cut into strips
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a 350F oven for 10 minutes or until golden (watched so that they don't burn)

Cook the orzo according to package directions.  Dump into a colander, rinse with cold water, drain well then place in a large bowl.

Add the balsamic vinegar and stir well.   Crumble in the feta, then add in everything else but the salt and pine nuts.  Toss well.  Taste, and add salt if desired.

Cover and refrigerate until serving (up to one day).  Just before serving, stir in the pine nuts.


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