Orzo is the Italian word for barley. This rice-shaped pasta (also know as risoni) is used around the Mediterranean in soups and stews. It makes a very good building block for pasta salads. I found this recipe for a Greek-flavoured orzo salad that would also be good to serve warm as a base or side dish for barbecued lamb.
- Boil a large pot of salted water.
- Add 300g of orzo to the boiling water, do not cover and cook vigorously 8-10 minutes until the pasta is cooked but still a little firm. Drain and rinse under cold running water until cool.
- Toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts to light brown.
- Chop 3 handfuls of trimmed or baby spinach. Put half of the spinach into a blender and whizz with some olive oil.
- Mix the orzo, spinach puree and pine nuts together.
- Add the rest of the spinach, half a red onion finely chopped, about 20 pitted black olives roughly chopped and crumble as much feta cheese as you like over the mix.
- Mix 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, a pinch of dried basil, pinch of dried tarragon, salt and ground pepper to taste.
- Pour over the salad and gently mix through. Leave the salad an hour or so before serving for the flavours to marry.