Friday, November 09, 2012

Mediterranean Munchies

 

Foodie Friday

Hello again! So today I would like to make for you my favorite go-to side/lunch/dinner, my Mediterranean pasta salad. This recipe has been improvised a bit from an Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) recipe. Its quick, easy, loaded with veggies, and very light. Its also a great recipe to improvise on, adding any additional veggies you have in the fridge to make it different. I know that artichoke hearts, olives, or cherry tomatoes would be great additions because they are other traditional Mediterranean ingredients and would compliment what I have used very well (I honestly just hate tomatoes and olives and I never cook with them unless I am making my Dad's tomato sauce). Also, for a more creamy salad, you could swap the dressing for a nice tzatziki sauce, which I often do (mix FINELY chopped cucumbers, dill, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper). Anyway, here it is I hope you enjoy!





Mediterranean Pasta Salad 

Ingredients:

1/2 - 1 box of orzo pasta 
(depending on if you like an even mix of veggies and pasta, or more pasta)

1 English cucumber
(these are the bigger, seedless kind)

1/2 large red onion

1 handful ( about 1/4 - 1/3 cup) fresh chopped dill

1 handful ( about 1/4 - 1/3 cup) fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
(about 3 - 5 lemons)

1 carton (or 1 block) fresh feta cheese
(reduced fat is fine, but do not use fat free)

1/4 cup your favorite vinaigrette dressing
(reduced fat is fine, but do not use fat free) 
(when using tzatziki sauce, you may need 1/2 - 1 cup of sauce) 
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
You can also add chicken strips, shrimp, or mini meatballs to this to add more body and make it a true dinner, I just chose to keep it vegetarian this time around and us it as a side.



 Directions:

Start by filling a large pot with water, add a healthy bit of salt, and bring it to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, begin to chop the veggies. Start by cutting the cucumber lengthwise. Then take a small spoon and scoop out just a bit of the flesh (flesh = seeds. Even though we are using a "seedless" cucumber, there is still that mushy seedy part that makes them less crunchy). Then slice each half lengthwise two more times, making six long skinny spears. Bundle spears together and chop into quarter-inch pieces. Add cucumber to a large mixing/serving bowl.

 




Next chop onion in half (I decided to chop the whole onion and just save what I didn't use for tomorrows meal, also, a trick my husband taught me is if you put the onion in the freezer five minutes before you chop it, you will not tear up). Score the onion almost all the way through lengthwise, and then the opposite way. Turn on its side and dice. Add it to the bowl.


 
  


 Next, remove the larger stems of the dill and finely chop. Repeat with the parsley. Add both to the bowl, then crumble and add the feta cheese as well. Then also add 1/2 of the lemon juice (if using fresh lemons a simple way to discard seeds and pulp is to squeeze over a strainer).


  
 

 


 Now that your salted water is boiling, add the pasta to it and follow the cooking directions on the box (it usually says to cook for 7-9 minutes. I always cook pasta to one minute less of the shortest time, so in this case I cooked it for 6 minutes. I like my pasta al dente. Also, if you put a wooden spoon on top of your pot while the pasta is cooking it will never overflow).  When pasta is ready, remove it from the heat and strain. Add a bit of olive oil to the strainer and stir because orzo is extremely starchy and will stick together. Add some salt as well, it is always best to season pasta while it is still hot. Next add pasta to the bowl (this dish is great when everything is chilled, but I prefer the pasta warm and the veggies cold. If you would like it to all be cold, you can chill the pasta either before or after you add it to the dish, it is really up to you). Add the remainder of the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dressing. Stir and taste to make sure the seasoning is to your liking. Serve and enjoy!


 

 


16 comments:

  1. Your food is like art ^_^
    -Shevon
    www.trashingfashion.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so nice of you to say! Food can be art I agree

      Delete
  2. OMG you are so good in cooking!
    I think I'm hungry now :D!

    Great post, I loved it.

    xo

    antaltimea.blogspot.ro

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It really is such a simple dish

      Delete
  3. I love how simple you show the recipe step by step. Going to try this sometime. :) x angie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should! I hope you like it, I know I do!

      Delete
  4. Great photos. So detailed!!
    xo jess
    www.stmurrie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much! I was trying to make it simple to re-create

      Delete
  5. Aaaaw, delicious!

    pass by me.
    DressMe:
    http://erikabarbato.blogspot.it/

    ReplyDelete
  6. This looks so tasty :)
    I love the way you present it all step by step. Great post!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I really wanted to make it as simple as possible to recreate.

      meghan

      Delete
  7. looks so simple!! & yummy! great Job! :)
    Xo Pam
    http://fashionlovebypam.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! It is both simple AND yummy for sure.

      Meghan

      Delete
  8. This looks amazing! I will have to try it out. Thank you! (it's also beautiful)

    From your newest follower,
    Thepolishedmonkey.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! You should try it, it is so tasty!

      Meghan

      Delete