Spinach and Beets

14 Mar

Medi Orzo SaladThis pasta salad is always the hit of the party, and makes tasty use of seasonal ingredients. Change up  the vegetables based on what you have on hand; the strong, pure Mediterranean flavors have a talent to pull almost anything off. Lots of lemon zest and juice, briny kalamata olives, and oregano and dill, which so amply grows on the hillsides of that region, work with veggies like peppers, summer squash, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes. I showcased spinach and roasted beets in this version, but you could use whatever the season brings. Except maybe sweet potatoes. That might not work.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 roasted red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (or a jar of roasted peppers, drained and    chopped)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup kalamata olives, drained and roughly chopped

2 lemons, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill

Olive oil, salt & pepper

2 cups chopped arugula or spinach

1 cup roasted beets, cut into medium dice

Bring a large pot of water to a strong, rolling boil, season generously with salt and put orzo in, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook orzo for 8 minutes and drain in a colander, then rinse until cooled under cold water. Drain well, then pour a bit of olive oil and mix well to coat the pasta.

Add the peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, lemon zest and juice, oregano, dill, salt and pepper and additional olive oil, if needed, to the pasta, and mix well to combine. Gently toss in the arugula or spinach, taste for additional salt and pepper, top with the beets (do not toss into the salad or they will discolor the salad) and serve room temperature or chilled.

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