Summer Orzo Salad

I have a couple of great aunts that are my idols.   Both are in their mid and upper 80s.    Both still live on their own and you truly need to get on their social calendars months in advance if you want to go to lunch with them.    Between bridge, church projects, volunteering, etc., they are literally running all the time.

They are two of the most cheerful people I have ever met.

They are my grandmother’s baby sisters and as they age, their mannerisms, personalities and appearances remind me more and more of her.    They are my connection to her.

My KC great-aunt recently made the trip down to visit her little sister in Tulsa.   It was an excuse for another family celebration.    I took the Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad to our last little family get-together.   I needed to up the ante a bit and take something else fabulous to wow them.   (Nope, not a competitive bone in my body…not at all.)


Summer Orzo Salad

2/3 c. canola oil
3 oz. red wine vinegar
3 oz. honey (Use less honey for a tangier dressing.)
2-3 drops Tabasco or Srirachi Sauce
1/2  t. salt
1 t.  pepper
1 1/2 c. orzo (cooked according to directions)
4 small cucumbers, diced (about 2 cups)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large bell pepper, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/8 c. basil, julienned (If using a boxwood, Pistou, or pesto basil, just chop it.)
4 oz. feta
Optional:   fresh herbs to garnish

Combine oil, vinegar, honey, hot sauce and salt and pepper in a blender and pulse until mixed.

Place all other ingredients in a bowl, drizzle on dressing and toss to coat.   Chill covered for 3 hours or longer.   This is better the 2nd day.

orzo summer saladI recently vowed to stay off the internet and my favorite foodie blogs for a while when searching for recipes.   I have a plethora of cookbooks that I never use any more.   It is just easier to use Google.  🙂

This salad is based on a “Pepper Place Vegetable Salad” from Tables of Content by the Junior League of Birmingham.  I adapted the dressing, added the orzo and basil and feta to a vegetable salad that is allegedly much loved at the Pepper Place Saturday Market in Birmingham.    (I also found inspiration for the jam dressings that I posted earlier in the week from the cookbook.)

This is easy to add chopped grilled chicken to for a summer meal.

Note:   Unfortunately, nothing was from the garden for this meal YET.   That is except the basil.   I have almost stripped my pesto basil clean.    I was able to land a Holy Thai basil plant in Houston, though.   That was a find!

Last Note:   When did your stuff that you bought new get retro?    I am referring to my green Tupperware “crisper” that was a must-have when I first moved out on my own.  (I was about to say “set up housekeeping” but that sounds too vintage in itself.  )IMAG3637

Is it about the same time as when you realize the toys you played with are going for big bucks on eBay as antiques?

Alas, what will I consider retro when I am in my 80’s like my two favorite great aunts?

17 comments to Summer Orzo Salad

  • What a great recipe! I love ALL the things in this salad so I must make it right away! My last great-aunt passed away this year and it was sad that my connection to my grand parents is gone. I guess I try to keep them alive through these recipes and it might be when I began trying to learn to cook. My daughter’s toys are now selling for lots of money on eBay which makes me laugh because I would have never expected that standing in line at Walmart when I was a teenager putting them in layaway for her Christmas presents! 🙂

  • LOOOOOVE this recipe, and I’m not even your great aunt!

    • Hey, you don’t have to be 80 to love this recipe. In fact, my second-cousin (or whatever I call my great-aunt’s children) loved it even more and kept some for her lunch the next day. It was so much fun. I have such an eclectic family on that side and we had some “Portlandia” moments which I am trying to figure out how to blog about without being snarky! 🙂

  • Liz

    I’m certain you wowed them with this orzo salad…it sounds so summery and just amazing!

  • Hopefully you got the live to 80 genes too. I like that your salad has no mayo. It is so easy to enjoy without wondering how you are going to keep it chilled.

  • It’s REALLY easier to use google!
    The orzo salad looks very summery and mouthwatering.

    • You are right, and I am still reading everyone’s posts and pinning a lot of delicious looking stuff. But, I love my old cookbooks.

  • Sounds like my 85 year old mother and her 87 year old sister! They are busy and active but they do allow me to taxi them on occasion. Such awesome women.
    Now on to the salad–it looks yummy. I love orzo and use it often.

    • I just hope to be that active when I am their age. Their outlook on life is just classic—so positive and they have a great sense of humor.

  • CCU

    What a beautiful salad, so fresh and delicious!


  • Super salad! I love big salads like this in the summer – it alone can be dinner! Good stuff – thanks.

    • The bigger the better because salads like this only get better on day two and three (if there is any left at that point).