Pickled Beet and Chorizo Orzo Salad

It’s the time of year when cold salads abound, from the classic potato and pasta salads, staples of most summer barbecues, to the healthier whole grain salads such as quinoa tabouli and blue cheese farro.  An all-in-one salad that is cool, light, refreshing, and nourishing is a staple to my summer diet, and every year I tend to pick up a new favorite.  This year’s favorite salad is an orzo salad lightly dressed in a lemon vinaigrette and stocked full of pickled baby beets, roasted bell peppers, fresh mozzarella, and spicy chorizo.  What’s not to love?  You’ve got your spicy, your sweet, your salty, and your zesty all rolled into one satisfying meal, and the small rice-like shape of the orzo gives you a refreshingly light pasta salad without the added density of chewing your way through large hunks of cold pasta.

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Ingredients:

  • 1lb Orzo Pasta
  • Salt and Water for cooking the pasta
  • ~ 1/4 cup of Olive Oil
  • juice from 2-3 Lemons
  • ~ 1 cup sliced Pickled Baby Beets (you can pickle them yourself or save some time and pick a jar up from the grocery store)
  • ~ 1 cup diced Roasted Bell Peppers (you can roast them yourself or find them already roasted and jarred at the grocery, if your really lucky, you can find them roaster, jarred, and pickled!)
  • ~ 1 cup cubed Fresh Mozzarella
  • ~ 1/2 cup diced cooked Chorizo
  • Salt and Black Pepper for seasoning

Directions:

  1. Cook the orzo.  Make sure to generously salt your water.  As a general rule cold food requires more salt, so around a tablespoon of salt in your cooking water wouldn’t go amiss.
  2. Once your orzo is cooked, strain and run it under cold water.  Leave it in the strainer to dry and continue to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Place the orzo in a large bowl, and drizzle the olive oil over it evenly, while stirring.
  4. Squeeze the lemon juice over the orzo, and give it another quick stir.
  5. Season the orzo with salt and pepper to taste.  At this point you might want to also add a little bit more lemon juice if the orzo is still tasting a little flat.
  6. Add in the remaining ingredient and give it a quick stir.
  7. Store the salad in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

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