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Our backyard was a busy place last weekend, with family and friends visiting. It's exactly how I love summer life unfolding, with spontaneous spritz on the patio and campfire smores just for fun.
A vegetable-filled pasta salad is one of the ways I like to feed a crowd without too much effort, especially when it's suffocating outside. You can do it in advance or prepare it at the last minute; Serve it alone or with grilled sausages.
It is quick to prepare, easily customizable and enjoyed by everyone. In a nutshell, pasta salad is a simple and smart summer kitchen, so I can't believe you have never shared a recipe until today. Today's recipe for the Mediterranean pasta salad is our ideal salad during the hot months. I give you my version, but I also suggest many variations of ingredients to make it yours.
This vibrant salad is delicious as a main and side dish. He travels well, which is ideal for those beach outings, and can be done ahead of time on busy weekends.
For the base, I toss a lemon and oil dressing over the orzo pasta; Orzo is a form I have always preferred over macaroni for my pasta salads. I also include a mountain of fresh herbs, because I grew them in abundance from May to October.
Ideally, a summer salad should be spicy and tart, creamy and crisp, and have the freshest seasonal vegetables available. Vegetable supplements are sometimes peas, radishes, or cucumbers (all very acceptable), but this month it's all about asparagus.
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I can substitute shaved parmesan instead of feta cheese, or swap cherry tomatoes for artichokes, but no matter the variation, this Mediterranean pasta salad is always swallowed.
The rest of the salad ingredients come from my well-stocked pantry; Yes, the pantry is as essential in summer as it is in winter! I have dry orzo pasta on hand, as well as jars of Kalamata olives and artichoke hearts in oil. The pine nuts are in an airtight jar in the freezer, where the heat and humidity won't make them rancid.
If you like, you can add sun-dried tomatoes (they're an ingredient I can do without) or add local cherry tomatoes, once they're sweet and filling. Better yet, my slowly roasted cherry tomatoes are flavorful little bites that add a dynamic bite and a pop of color to the salad. Make them the day before serving to help ensure quick assembly when preparing the dish.
With these staples from the pantry on hand, fresh herbs and vegetables from our farm, this vibrant summer pasta salad is an easy choice for Monday-Friday lunch or a spontaneous picnic. I hope it arrives at your table soon.
Mediterranean pasta and picnic salad
Bursting with flavor, this is our favorite picnic salad. I am convinced that it is best after spending the night in the refrigerator, so consider making the salad before your picnic or barbecue.
Essential Ingredient: Pasta
Preparation time: 20 minutes.
Cook time: 10 minutes.
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
- 1 package of washed asparagus
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta
- 1 large lemon scrubbed
- 1/4 cup fresh herb leaves such as basil, oregano, and chives
- 1 small garlic clove
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 4 artichoke hearts (canned) use 4 or 5, depending on size
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, trim the ends of the studs and strip the lower thirds. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
Add the orzo paste to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 ½ minutes. Add the asparagus to the pot now and cook for an additional minute and a half (or until tender). Strain the orzo and asparagus into a strainer. Drain well, then transfer to a baking sheet and spread to cool completely.
Meanwhile, grate lemon in medium bowl; juice in the bowl, discarding the seeds. Finely chop the herbs and add them to the bowl. Grate the garlic using a microplane or crush it in a garlic press. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix dressing well until smooth and a little creamy.
In a large bowl, combine cold pasta and asparagus with lemon basil vinaigrette. Add feta cheese, olives, artichokes, and pine nuts. Mix well to combine. Try seasoning and adjust if necessary.