Vegan

Summer Orzo Salad

It’s summer, and summer in my family means birthday celebrations! Not just the 4th of July, but also the birthdays of a niece, a nephew and my mother who turned a big #0 this year.

We celebrated her with a family trip to Saugatuck, on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, where nature really knows how to celebrate summer. Afterwards, we came back to the western shores, where I grew up, to celebrate again with extended family and friends.

At the “back home” party, a few friends asked for the recipe of this Strawberry Salad (thank you Kathy!) and an Orzo Salad we served, so I thought I’d write that latter one up here and share it with you. It is such a wonderfully satisfying dish for summer with Ayurvedic wisdom in every colorful, cooling bite.

Primarily a salad of the sweet, astringent and bitter tastes that are so cooling and fresh in summer, with just enough of the sour, salt and pungent tastes to optimize digestibility, this is nourishing and hearty yet light and refreshing.

Please see this post to learn more about the six tastes, or get my book Ayurveda Cooking For Beginners for more on the science and joy of creating delicious, healthy meals by balancing these tastes in every season.

I didn’t write the recipe down as I was making it, and it was made to serve 30. In writing it up here as a recipe modified to serve 4-6, I may not have the amounts all exactly correct. Please consider this recipe as a suggestion, and adjust to taste. With lots of citrus and fresh herbs highlighting farm-fresh summer ingredients you really can’t go wrong!

Have you ever wondered the best way to prepare fresh herbs – chop, slice or tear? Washed or dry? Stems or not? Epicurious has the definitive guide here.

Summer Orzo Salad
Serves 4-6

Feel free to substitute the orzo for rice to make a Mediterranean Rice Salad as my friend Phoebe in Italy so deftly does. Or use quinoa, as angel Alina creatively does. Or amaranth, millet or barley! Grains are in the sweet taste category, said in Ayurveda to be cooling and tonifying, and therefore ideal for summer. 

Ingredients

Salad
1 cup orzo, dry/uncooked
4 persian cucumbers
1 cup small cherry tomatoes
4-6 spring onions, depending on size and taste
1/3 jar chopped and pitted black greek olives
1 small container crumbled feta cheese
1 handful each fresh dill and parsley
1 small handful mint

Dressing
1/4 cup full fat yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
1 lime
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
pink salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

Cook orzo according to the package instructions.

Make the dressing by whisking together the yogurt and olive oil in a medium size bowl. Zest the lemon and lime into the bowl, then juice the citrus and stir into the dressing. Mix in the seasoning salt.

Slice and quarter the cucumbers, slice and halve the tomatoes, chop the spring onions and add to the bowl with the dressing. Stir in the olives with a bit of their brine.

Drain the orzo and let stand. Once the orzo has cooled, mix with the vegetables and dressing. Chop the dill, parsley, and tear the mint. Stir into the salad. Just before serving, toss with the feta. Taste, adjust, and add salt and pepper to taste.

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