Tag Archives: feta cheese

Orzo Asparagus Salad

Orzo Asparagus Salad

It’s not too often that when I walk through the produce section of my favorite food co-op and then all of a sudden stop dead in my tracks…  What caught my eye were these gorgeous stems of locally grown organic purple asparagus.  I’ve never seen or even heard of purple asparagus before.  I’ve prepared green and white asparagus dozens of times but never the purple variety.  What a treat!  I snagged a big huge handful and put them it in my basket.

I gotta tell you that purple asparagus is not completely purple…  When you slice it, it has a light greenish white center and the outside of the stems turn purple to greenish purple as you cook them.  Purple asparagus is as tender and tastes the same as green asparagus.  With my new found prize, I decided to make an Orzo Asparagus Salad as a side dish with our grilled salmon for dinner this evening.  If I happened to have any leftovers, I will pack it in my lunch tomorrow.

After preparing my Orzo Asparagus Salad and as I was waiting for Bruce to come home from work, I thought I’d head outdoors with my camera to capture a few shots of late spring flowers and plants…

A variety of “double” columbine.  Notice the two layers of petals?

A “single” petaled columbine.  It’s just simply beautiful!  It’s one of my favorite perennial flowers.

Now back to what’s going on in my kitchen… My Orzo Asparagus Salad is a brightly colored spring dish that is easy to make and tastes wonderful.  It’s made with orzo pasta, locally grown purple asparagus, chopped red onion, crisp red bell pepper, Roma tomato, hand picked herbs from my garden such as oregano, basil and parsley, kalamata olives, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil and then topped with crumbled feta cheese.  Makes about 4 – 6 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup orzo pasta (cook to manufacturer’s direction)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped asparagus (I used purple but, you can use what you like)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped and seeded Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped basil
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese

Begin by cooking the orzo pasta according to manufacturer’s direction (or 7 minutes in salted boiling water).  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside.  Meanwhile, bring another salted pot of water to a boil.  Add asparagus and cook for about two to three minutes.  Drain and set aside.  In a medium sized mixing bowl add cooked orzo, cooked asparagus, bell pepper, tomato, kalamata olives, onion, basil, parsley and oregano.  Lightly toss.  In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add to salad and toss to coat.  Refrigerate until well chilled. Put in a serving dish and top with feta cheese.

Red Quinoa Salad

Red Quinoa Salad

I love it when I make a dish that my husband Bruce has never tasted or even seen before in his life.  My Red Quinoa Salad is one of those dishes… Last night when I put a bowl of my Red Quinoa Salad next to the grilled chicken that I made him for dinner, he stopped what he was doing, looked down, looked at me and said in a stern voice “Okay, what is this Tess? And, wait, are those zucchinis?  You know I hate zucchini!”.   I looked at him with a big smirk and said, “No, it’s not zucchini silly, it’s cucumber, and before you ask any more questions, the salad is red quinoa with kalamata olives and feta.  You’ve had quinoa before, it’s good for you and I think you will like the salad”.  He looked back at me in silence….  As my sister would say, all you could hear was “crickets”.  And I gotta tell you that I was right.  Bruce liked it!  He ate the whole bowl and then he wanted more…

For those who do not know, quinoa is a type of edible seed that originated in the Andes of South America.  Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wah” and not “key-nowah” like I first thought…  It comes in a couple of varieties including red and black.  I enjoy making quinoa because it is so quick to prepare, easy and versatile.  You can serve it hot or cold and it can be ready in a matter of about 20 – 25 minutes.  Next time you see quinoa at the market, snag some.  I think you’ll like it.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa (rinsed well in cold water and drained)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cucumber (diced)
  • 1 cup red tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (make mine, you will love it!)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup crumbed feta cheese for garnish (optional)
  • parsley sprig for garnish

Begin by cooking the quinoa in a covered saucepan on medium heat until it boils.  Turn on low and let cook another 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Meanwhile chop all your vegetables and make the Red Wine Vinaigrette.  When quinoa is cool add all ingredients except feta cheese to a mixing bowl and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  When ready to serve, sprinkle top of salad with “optional” feta cheese and garnish with parsley.  Serves 4.