Friday, February 11, 2011

Orzo Cherry Salad

This salad has come to be after much trial and error! My husband and I were served this dish ages ago on a vacation. We loved it so much I decided to make it when we got home. The main ingredients were easy enough to duplicate (although, the addition of the wilted spinach and toasted pine-nuts were my add-ons); it was the dressing that I had trouble with! I just couldn’t seem to get it right! Finally, my husband nailed it- I wasn’t using enough balsamic vinegar! “Put in as much vinegar as you do oil,” he said! “NO way,” was my reply! “That’s so much vinegar!” But, I did as he suggested and well, he was right! It was the vinegar!

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbl orange juice
4-6 whole cloves garlic, peeled
A whole bunch of basil- about 20 leaves

1 lb orzo pasta
3-4 c. raw baby leaf spinach
1 c. dried cherries (not cranberries...although, if you absolutely cannot find cherries, I’m sure cranberries would be sufficient)
1 c. pine nuts, toasted in 1 Tbl olive oil
1/2-1 tsp salt
1-2 chicken breasts, cooked & cut into bite sized pieces
Feta cheese, crumbled

1.Cook orzo pasta according to the directions on the box.
2.While pasta is cooking put the spinach in large bowl.
3.Put olive oil in a nonstick pan over low medium heat. Toast the pine-nuts in the oil for about five minutes until they are golden brown.
Drain the orzo completely. Immediately put the hot orzo on top of the spinach. Leave it be for at least 5 minutes. The hot orzo will wilt the spinach.
4.Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and just blend away until the dressing is completely smooth.
5.Pour the dressing on top of the orzo/spinach and stir, mixing well.
6.Add the salt, toasted pine-nuts, cherries & chicken to the orzo/spinach mixture.
7.Chill salad in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
8.Sprinkle feta cheese onto each dish just before serving.

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