Orzo Salad for a Crowd

Potlucks, BBQs and picnics usually mean you’re in charge of making a dish that can satisfy a crowd.  Instead of the expected potato salad, wow them with this orzo salad that incorporates all the flavors of  an antipasti plate.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand to make this recipe your own and try grilling them if it’s just to hot for the oven.

4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
3 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 oz. soppressata , cut into half inch cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup black olives, chopped
1 1/2 cups parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. basil
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan 
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 lbs. orzo

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place quartered tomatoes on a large baking sheet.  Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle on 1/4 tsp. salt.  Toss to combine and then spread out the tomatoes so that they are in a single layer on the sheet.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once half way through.  Remove and let cool.

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.  Then, in a large saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the asparagus for 1 and a half minutes.   Remove asparagus and promptly place in the ice bath to cool.  After 5 minutes in the ice bath, drain the asparagus and dry with clean kitchen towel.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with 1/4 tsp. salt.  Toss to combine and then spread out the asparagus so that they are in a single layer on the sheet.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once about half way through.  Remove and add to the pan with the tomatoes.  Add the chopped artichoke hearts to the pan and toss to combine.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Once water is boiling, add orzo.  Cook according to package directions making sure to remove the orzo when it is just al dente.  Drain pasta and stir in 2 tbsp of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Divide the orzo and vegetables evenly among two large bowls (due to volume) and combine.  Add equal amounts of the soppressata and olives to each bowl.  In a jar with a tight lid (or large mixing bowl), combine the parmesan, chili, parsley, basil, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt to make the dressing.  Drizzle in 3/4 cup  olive oil.  Place the lid on and shake to combine.   Pour half of the dressing over each bowl of orzo.  Squeeze lemon into each bowl and sprinkle a little fresh black pepper.  Stir to combine well.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe feeds a large crowd but can certainly be halved for smaller groups.


Hummus & Egg Salad

There really are few things I dislike when it comes to food.  Oddly enough, two of the things I dislike the least are both popular condiments. So I will just come out and say it, I am repulsed by mayonnaise and ketchup.  My Big Mac’s are eaten dry and I can’t stand the sight of egg salad.

Oh and speaking of egg salad, well it’s not just the mayo.  I can’t stand hard-boiled eggs either, or so I thought until recently.

The other day, however, I came across Caitlin’s simple, fresh salad that included, of all things, a hard-boiled egg.  I closed the page and thought nothing of it, except when the next day I started thinking about that egg.  It was perfect, white on the outside with a deep yellow circle in the middle. I had to have one.

But how? An egg salad sandwich, perhaps?

Cue the hummus.

One of my favorite things about not liking mayonnaise (besides the look on people’s faces when they hear such blasphemy) is coming up with different substitutions for common mayo laden dishes.  This was a perfect opportunity to do that again.

The hummus in this egg salad lends the perfect creaminess while green onions add a mild crunch.  And here’s the proof, upon tasting, a skeptical, mayo loving friend mumbled under their breath “This is better than the original”.   Turning doubters into believers everyday my friends.

So what foods can’t you stand?

Hummus Egg Salad Sandwich

Printable Version

(makes 2 sandwiches)

2 hard-boiled eggs*

¾ cup diced cherry tomatoes (or any tomato you have on hand)

¼ cup sliced green onion (both the white & green parts – don’t discriminate!)

2 tsp. hummus

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper


Hot sauce (optional)

4 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

1 cup spinach

To make egg salad:

Take cooled hard-boiled eggs and slice lengthwise down the center.  Holding the two sides together, slice three times in the opposite direction so the egg is cut into cubes.

Add egg, tomato & onion together in a medium bowl.  Season with half of the salt and pepper plus a sprinkle of paprika.  Mix in hummus.  Stir in remaining salt, pepper and hot sauce if using.

Let sit 5 minutes while the bread toasts.

To make the sandwich:

For each sandwich, add ½ cup spinach to the bottom slice before layering on the egg salad.

* Don’t know how to make hard-boiled eggs?  Yea – neither did I.

It’s simple, for 2 eggs just fill a small saucepan three quarters full (enough so the eggs are covered), add a pinch of salt and bring to a slow rolling bowl.  Add in the eggs – without breaking them of course – and let cook for 13 – 15 minutes.  Remove and cool before peeling.