If you’ve read a few of my recipes by now, you may have noticed that most of them aren’t really too complicated. Often, the dishes that I make don’t contain many ingredients. A delicious, special-occasion layer cake might require a few more than ten, but I can’t think of many others that do! For me, a lot of the joy of cooking comes from finding delicious, high-quality ingredients. And when each element is delectable, very little cooking effort is really required.
I often rely on simple methods, like easy oven roasting or a quick sauté. I write straightforward recipes like this for you because I really believe that food doesn’t have to be complicated, elaborate, or over-done to be amazing! In my opinion, the best dishes tend to feature the most fresh and yummy ingredients that you can get your hands on, prepared simply, with a little creativity and lots of love!
For instance, I know that when I make a dish with vegetables at the height of their seasonality, it’s pretty much bound to be delicious. The farmer’s market is a treasure trove; even better, my mom’s garden! Fresh herbs can also do wonders to brighten up and enliven a protein or grain. Try a sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro or a few basil leaves – you may find that you don’t need that complicated sauce, after all.
I love this whole wheat orzo pasta salad because each component – the roasted vegetables, the orzo, the dressing, the chopped parsley – is so straightforward to prepare. Yet each enhances the next, creating an incredible harmony of fresh summer flavors! Consider this recipe a basic template that can be modified and adapted based on your own tastes and preferences. I think it would be fun to make this orzo salad throughout the year, picking new add-ins and dressing ingredients based on the season! In this case, the resulting salad is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta Salad
Makes 4 servings
- 8 ounces whole wheat orzo
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 eggplant
- 2 zucchini
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until tender, about ten minutes. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Add drained orzo and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until cool, at least one hour.
- Meanwhile, to roast veggies, preheat oven to 400°.
- Cube eggplant and slice zucchini into rounds. Transfer to a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, add some salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
- Roast until softened and browned, 25-30 minutes. Let cool.
- To serve, top orzo with roasted veggies, tomatoes, red peppers, parsley, and walnuts. Toss to combine.
- It’s important to immediately toss the cooked orzo with the dressing. This helps the pasta to absorb all the yummy flavors!
- The dish can also be served warm. Simply toss the hot orzo with the roasted veggies and remaining ingredients.
- Feel free to adapt the vegetables and add-ons in this dish based on the season. I particularly love fresh corn with feta.