Orzo Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette



It's no secret that I love me some orzo. In fact, it is one of my pantry staples since I never seem to tire of it. For orzo, I try to put aside those pesky 'white flour pasta is terrible for you' rumors. I love it so much in fact, that when Shaun and I had a little soiree at our new abode this past weekend and planned to utilize our friend Mr. Weber for the main course, I thought an orzo pasta salad would be the perfect accompaniment.

That is until I forgot to serve it when dinner came out. Since it was casual and informal, a kind of grab your burger and move to another location to sit sort of party if you will, I completely forgot that this delicious and gorgeous salad was sittin' pretty in my refrigerator. Bummer. I swear I'll get this hostess thing down at some point. Soon. It did mean, though, that Shaun and I had 4 days of salad to get through and now that it's gone, I am kind of missing it.

Light and fresh, this salad is the perfect side dish or main lunch course. Since it can be served cold or at room temperature, it was the ideal totable lunch for both Shaun and me for the early part of the week. A hint of sweetness from the honey and a bit of sourness from the vinegar, the vinaigrette is so light you might even forget it's there. Green beans add some nutritional value while the cubes of mozzarella add texture and, let's face it, everything is better with cheese. Oh and the green beans soak up the vinaigrette so they are crunchy but super flavorful.

Orzo Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette
1 box orzo, cooked
1 bag green beans, blanched
1 block part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
1/4 C white wine vinegar
1/4 C olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced (I used the jarred kind because it's muted and easier - Tony Bourdain, strike me down!)
kosher salt
black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
parmesean cheese

Prepare the orzo per box instructions. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil (do not salt the water). To blanch the green beans (cook them so they're edible but keep some crunch and their bright green color), add the green beans and cover for 3 minutes. While this is cooking, make a little ice bath in a large mixing bowl. Remove the green beans from the boiling water and place them in the ice bath immediately which will stop the cooking process. Remove from ice and cut into chewable pieces. Drain orzo and add a bit of olive oil to keep it moist. Toss together the orzo, green beans and cubed cheese (oh and feel free to sample some...you know, just to make sure it's edible).

Now it's time for the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, mustard and garlic. Once combined, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking the entire time. Pour over the orzo and toss together. Enjoy!

So there you have it. A delicious, light and fresh salad that couldn't be easier. If only my guests could have enjoyed it with us! So what do you think? Do you have a favorite side salad? Have you ever forgotten to serve something at a party? Dish!

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