Summer Orzo Salad

Mike and I may not be ready for kids yet, but we just brought 3 precious living things into our home: a Thai chili plant, a basil plant, and a mint plant. These three fabulous additions live in terra cotta pots on a ledge in front of our living room window, and I’m already madly in love with them. When you do cost benefit analysis of buying those little plastic containers of fresh herbs versus keeping pots of your own, there’s a clear winner (and it doesn’t come in plastic).

This fabulous recipe from Kelsey’s blog features both mint and basil, and it really is a perfect, light summer dinner. I loved the rich flavor that comes from cooking the orzo in broth instead of water, and now that we’re coming into tomato season, this is a great way to use those adorable little bite-sized tomatoes. I cut back on the oil in the dressing and only poured about half of it over the orzo, which I thought provided plenty of flavor. I also topped each serving with a dusting of crumbled feta. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

(adapted from Apple A Day)

4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few tbsp crumbled feta

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
a few pinches freshly ground black pepper

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 9 minutes. Drain then transfer to a large bowl and cool completely.
Add the onion, beans, tomato, mint, and basil, toss well, and season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.

Whisk the dressing ingredients and pour about half the dressing over the orzo, tossing well to combine. Serve with a little feta sprinkled over the top, and pass the remaining dressing at the table.

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