Birds are chirping, tulips are budding and I can finally walk outside without a heavy coat. As spring arrives, I find myself craving refreshing dishes with ingredients like juicy oranges and fragrant herbs. After a winter filled with holiday gluttony, I welcome the colors, aromas and most importantly the tastes of spring.
Typically when I test out a new recipe, I only make it for my husband and me. I figure if it doesn’t turn out well, we’ll eat it anyway and my culinary pride can be spared since I didn’t serve the debut dish to guests. Yet when I came across this recipe for Fregola Salad with Fresh Citrus and Red Onion last year, I had to try it out at our next big extended family dinner. I figured there was time to run to the store for a pre-made pasta salad were there to be a disaster in my kitchen.
Fortunately, no such pasta salad rescue mission was required. I made a few recipe tweaks along the way and ended up with the version below for what I call Citrus-Herb Orzo Salad (I must be on a citrus kick this week). It was a huge hit and provided a filling vegetarian alternative for my future sister-in-law who is about to marry into a meat-loving family.
After this salad managed a successful recipe debut last summer, I couldn’t wait to make it again. I thought it’d be the perfect side dish for our family Easter celebration tomorrow – light, refreshing, colorful and delicious enough to satisfy both vegetarians and meat-lovers. Best of all, I made this dish ahead of time so that tomorrow I wouldn’t be distracted from focusing on Easter.
What dishes are you looking forward to making this spring?
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 orange
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 lb. orzo pasta
- 3 oranges
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, mix the zest of one orange and the olive oil. Let sit.
- In a large pot, heat the vegetable broth until boiling. Add orzo and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and spread it out onto a large baking sheet to cool.
- Using a small knife, peel the 3 oranges and the grapefruit, being sure to remove all the pith off the outside.
- Over a large bowl (to catch all the juice), cut the fruit into segments, cutting in between the membranes.
- Add the onion, mint, basil, salt, pepper and cooled orzo to the bowl.
- Pour in the zest/oil mixture into the rest of the ingredients.
- Stir until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Serve and enjoy!