Black olives were on my mind the other day; I craved their salty goodness. I did a search for recipes and found a watermelon, feta, black olive salad recipe. On the heels of my unusual cantaloupe and watermelon salads recently I thought not. Maybe later this summer when cold salads will be welcome. But melon wasn’t in my mind. I wanted veggies.
I decided I wanted tomatoes and cucumbers along with the black olives. All I’d need is a zesty vinaigrette and that might satisfy my olive craving in a good way. Eventually I decided to use my “go-to” Mediterranean Orzo Salad recipe that I’d developed a few years ago after having an awesome salad in a restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I usually had all of those ingredients on hand anyway, and I could just double the black olives and really soothe my craving!
I cooked the orzo in salted water until it was al dente, then drained and rinsed it to stop the cooking. I usually use an orzo that is shaped like large pieces of rice, just cuz I like that shape but I was out.
I had acini de pepe on hand, which was tiny tubes of pasta. You could use any small pasta, really.
Next I peeled and diced up two medium cucumbers.
I also diced 5 medium-sized roma tomatoes and added them to the bowl. I already had a container of thinly sliced green onions, so I added about a ½ cup of those to the bowl.
Were you waiting for it? Yes, I then diced up a sweet bell pepper, my addiction. It was a lovely red one this time. It would be a nice little crunch, as well as perking up the colors of my salad. I almost tossed them into a skillet to put a little roasted brown color and flavoring to them, but decided I wanted the color to stay vivid for my salad.
Ready for the black olives, I opened up a large can and chopped them roughly, leaving the pieces pretty large. I wanted to know I had an olive in my mouth!
Then just for the fun of it, I put in a couple of tablespoons of chopped kalamata olives as well. Black olives with even more of a flavor punch! Even though they look liked chopped liver here in the picture, they are zesty and full of salty goodness.
I kept the dressing simple. I used 1/4 cup of lime juice and ¼ cup olive oil. I put in a glug of balsamic vinegar, about a tablespoon, and called it done. For spices I added about a half teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, a pinch of cayenne, and a few shakes of black pepper. Ready to taste!
Excellent! It was simple, with lots of flavor, and just what I was craving. I could have curled up in a corner of the couch on this dark and rainy day, and contentedly eaten my way through the entire bowl. Who needs meat? Well, my P.S. does, so I did have to refrigerate the salad and prepare an actual meat product and a starch to round out the meal. Sigh. I think I was a vegetarian in a former life. I’d have been happy with the colorful salad in my colorful bowl.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
2 cups orzo, cooked al dente according to directions on package
1 large or 2 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced (red, yellow or orange)
½ cup diced green onions
large can black olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
4-5 roma tomatoes, diced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Crumbled feta for garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Cook the orzo according to directions; drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
Put chopped veggies in a large bowl. Whisk oil, lime juice, vinegar, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne in a separate bowl. Pour over veggies and mix.