Pasta Salad

It’s summertime. It’s hot. I’m always hungry. I am almost done with my summer semester’s projects, so I decided to take some time this evening to do some cooking! My roommate made something very similar to this a while back, and just the idea of it had been tempting me ever since. So I googled around a bit, took the most approachable recipe I could find, modified it somewhat, and this time I remembered to take pictures!

Whole wheat shells and fresh baby spinach in garlic!
I tried to buy orzo in the store-zo (haha) but I couldn’t find anything whole grain or whole wheat, so I opted for these shells instead, and I added garlic and olive oil to the spinach ahead of time, too.

Christmas? In a sauce pan? In July?
The recipe calls for a pound of spinach, and if there’s anything I remember my mom telling me from my childhood, it’s how what appears to be a lot of spinach so quickly wilts down to nothing, and if there’s anything I forgot today…it’s that. So, the spinach to ratio was way off, but life is a learning process.

My first zested lemons!
Speaking of learning, I had never zested lemons before in my life!

Glass bowls make everything pretty!
Then I combined everything (not pictured individually: salt, red and black pepper, dried basil, and parmesan cheese).

Om nom nom!
And since it’s National Eat Like a Dinosaur day*, I of course had to om-nom-nom my first serving down, before giving it a chance to cool (the rest is in the fridge, though, so no worries!).

Here’s the original recipe, direct from Rachael Ray; I’d rather do a lot of things instead of watch her show, but her recipes are rarely bad, so as long as I don’t have to hear/watch…

1 pound spinach, washed, dried, stems removed
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lemons, zested
1 1/2 cups orzo, cooked to al dente
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the bowl
24 basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Pile spinach leaves in stacks 1 on top of the other. Thinly slice stacks of leaves to make spinach confetti. Pile shredded spinach into the bottom of a medium sized mixing bowl. Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl. Add the zest of 2 lemons to the bowl and save the lemons in the refrigerator to juice for another recipe. Add hot cooked and drained orzo pasta to the mixing bowl. The heat of the pasta will wilt the spinach and warm the tomatoes at the bottom of the bowl and get the juices flowing from veggies. The heat of the pasta will also release the flavor and oils in the lemon zest. Drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over the pasta and toss to combine the veggies and orzo. Add basil and salt and pepper and toss to combine. Taste your orzo to adjust seasonings and serve.

Oh, PS – in case anyone wants to know, I have started on The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin, and so far I don’t find it as irritating at Something Borrowed. Fingers crossed. It’s one of my two plane/beach reads for Greece (the other is All We Wanted Was Everything, though I am also considering picking up a copy of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine before I head out as well – she is my favorite new novelist, after all, and there are approximately 250 holds on only 40 copies already).

*I’m not sure how dinosaurs would feel about this particular salad…


4 thoughts on “Pasta Salad

  1. That sounds absolutely wonderful! I don’t want what I am making for dinner now! Will definitely be making it tomorrow night ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks so much for sharing and Happy Eat Like a Dinosaur Day to you!

    • Word to the wise – if I had it to do over, I would maybe leave out the garlic and the red pepper. That being said, I am in no way dissatisfied with my creation and the recipe basically begs for people to play around with it, so I have no regrets! It would probably be delicious with some kind of chicken as well, if you wanted to add some protein!

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