Friday, May 20, 2011

Spinach Orzo Salad

This idea was absolutely not mine. In the days of working in a deli (how humbling), we had to make this every morning. However, the orzo was cooked and everything was prepackaged, ick. A seemingly healthy salad, this deli poured creamy dressing over the greens to dump on unnecessary salt, calories and fat. I will admit, however, that it was delicious but a guilty pleasure because of the dressing.
As you know, we were having a picnic, and I thought this was a perfect opportunity to "healthitize" this tasty salad.

Spinach Orzo Salad
*serves 6 as a side*
3 cups of spinach leaves
1/2 cup whole wheat orzo
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped into bits
1/4 cup feta cheese sprinkles (I used Italian herb flavored)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
2 TB green onions/chives
3 TB Italian dressing or your favorite vinaigrette (+ more to taste)

Boil water and cook orzo as you would rice. (Once water comes to a rolling boil, drop in orzo, cover pot, and lower heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 15 minutes.) Orzo is slightly quicker in cooking time than rice.

Once orzo is cooked, drain and leave in colander to cool. In the meantime, wash and pat dry spinach leaves and put in large bowl. Add toppings and toss. When slicing the roasted red pepper, be sure and pat dry with a paper towel.

Once orzo is cool, use a fork to separate the pieces from sticking together. Add orzo to spinach mixture and toss, adding dressing/vinaigrette as you toss. The dressing should be light and not soupy, which quickly wilts the spinach.
Chill for 1 hour and enjoy! 
This salad would be a great lunch with a grilled chicken or turkey breast on top.

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