Friday, February 18, 2011

Orzo with Garbanzo Beans, Red Onion, Basil and Mint

Now that we have weather back in the 70s, it's time to plant some herbs! When I saw fresh mint and basil at the grocery store, I was inspired to make this wonderful orzo salad again--a simple lunch or side dish that is great side to grilled meats/burgers. This is the perfect salad to take to potlucks or serve at picnics (since you can safely leave it at room temperature). Even kids like it! I used to take it to the office with me when I worked outside of the home--it's a great meal for the office. The flavors sit and the salad is even better the next day!

A few things I have learned in making this INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS salad:

  • Try adding the vinaigrette at the point where the pasta is hot to soak the flavors up better
  • I prefer to add the tomatoes right before serving to keep them from getting “mushy” or watering down the salad. This salad can be made ahead and served at room temperature.
  • If you want to take the bite out of the raw onion, try adding the onion to the hot pasta right away
  • Feel free to substitute cannellini beans if you don't like or can't find garbanzo beans
  • Feel free to substitute green onions for red onion
  • You can also crumble feta on top of the salad--it's delicious
  • The salad adapts well with the addition of sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and/or black olives
  • The original recipe includes honey in the vinaigrette, but I don't think it needs it so I never include it. If you're in a pinch, store bought vinaigrette works fine, but the one below is really good!
Adapted from Food Network's Giada di Laurentis

Makes 6 servings.

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1 ½ cups orzo (tiny pasta that looks like rice)
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed
¾ cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¾ cup red wine vinaigrette (recipe follows)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups teardrop or grape tomatoes, halved

Bring the broth to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook, stirring frequently, until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bit, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.

Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, herbs, and enough vinaigrette to coat; you may not need all ¾ cup. Season the salad with salt and pepper, and serve.

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper (OR, add the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake).


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