This is a recipe I used to make often and then forgot about, but I just dusted it off for company and we all loved it. It was enough for 4 people, with leftovers. (As one of several salads at a family event it served an even larger crowd.) That always surprises me since it doesn’t seem like a lot of ingredients, but the orzo does expand when it cooks. It is served at room temperature or chilled so it’s also good for picnics or potlucks.
The recipe appeared in the 2011 “Best of Clean Eating 2”, and I’m sharing it with my modifications. Unlike baking where we need to be precise, salads allow us to be a bit more flexible.
make sure you have a medium sized orange and note that you’ll be using the zest, segments and juice.
have the vinaigrette ready before the orzo is ready (the orzo must be hot when combined with the vinaigrette). The orzo cooks quickly, so I prep most things before cooking the orzo.
prep the fennel and fennel fronds; the fennel should be thinly slices and in bite sized pieces; a bit of the fronds will add flavour and look nice - but be sure to chop them - works better than leaving them in large segments.
thinly slice the green onions
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 orange (you’ll be using zest, sections and juice)
In a large bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Wash and dry the orange before zesting it, and whisk the zest into the vinaigrette. (Next you’ll be adding the orange juice and segments.)
Segment the orange over a separate bowl to catch the juices. (Here’s how.) As this link shows, cut off the top and bottom of the orange and set it on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice down the sides, removing the peel. Then, working over the bowl to catch juices, carefully cut sections away from the membrane. Add them to the same bowl - and set aside. (The orange segments will be added near the end.) Squeeze juice from remaining membrane into large bowl with vinaigrette. Discard the remaining membrane. Pour off any extra juice in the bowl with the segments into the vinaigrette. Optional: cut the orange sections in half.
5 oz (142 g) regular or whole wheat orzo
Measure 5 oz using a cup or 142 g by weight. (I don’t rinse the orzo - it is a pasta.) Cook the orzo according to package directions - this may take only 10 minutes. Drain the orzo and add it to large bowl with the vinaigrette and toss. Set aside to cool slightly.
orange segments from earlier step
1/4 medium bulb fennel (cored, and thinly sliced, plus 1 TB feathery fennel fronds chopped)
2 green onions thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta, or (my preference) honey goat cheese (small log, 113 g)
If you have not already prepped the fennel, do this while the orzo is cooking.
To the orzo mixture, add the orange segments, the fennel, fennel fronds and green onions. Add more salt if needed/desired.
Break the goat cheese into wee bits, leaving about 1/4 of the log. Stir the salad to distribute the cheese. Break the rest of the log into wee chunks to garnish the top.
This salad is best on the day of, but still enjoyable on day 2. Refrigerate if there is a really long period between prep and use.