Caprese Orzo Salad with White Balsalmic Vinaigrette

June 3, 2014

It’s that time of year again…
It’s warm again! We can finally go outside! And it also means it is time to plant one of these:
No matter how little the kids are or how crazy life is, planting an herb garden is the one thing I know I can do because it takes under five minutes. If you haven’t ever done this before, try it – it will make you happy every time you look at it. This year I planted two because…. I forgot dill for potato salad! And I might need more basil for quick caprese salads with steak! And I forgot mint for juleps! I totally geek out at the garden center every time.
(I know there is inedible lavender in the pic – that made its way into its own pretty pot)
So in honor of herbs, here is an herby recipe that is great for all the summer outings, BBQs and picnics these days call for….
Caprese Orzo Salad with White Balsalmic Vinaigrette
(I am letting my basil grow before I pick it so I used store bought for this, obviously. You can never have too much basil.)
Since I don’t like the way regular Balsamic Vinegar makes pasta turn an unappetizing shade of kalamata olive, I decided to make a vinaigrette with this:
A super simple vinaigrette with 1/2 c. White Balsalmic, 1/4 c.Olive Oil, Juice of 1 Lemon, and 1 Tablespoon Dijion, plus 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. What made this dish so yummy to me was that I poured half of the vinaigrette onto the hot orzo. This made it absorb the flavors into the pasta as I let it cool.
Once it is cool (so the cheese doesn’t get gooey), dice tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and put on top…
Then you add basil.  If you are new to cooking, basil tends to turn black when it is cut (yuck) so here’s how to cut basil without bruising it (technical term is chiffonade):
Stack them…
Roll it up like a cigar…
Slice into pretty ribbons…
And pour over the top.
 Then add the rest of the dressing so the new ingredients get nicely coated:
Then toss, and head outside! Hopefully to a fun BBQ/party or just dinner on the deck with the fam.
If you are going to a gathering, I can’t recommend getting one if these Wilton Armetale – type bowls enough – they are pretty and don’t break.
 Now you’re all done – you can relax and put your feet up. Happy Sunshine!
Caprese Orzo Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette (printer version here):

1 box of orzo (2 cups) cooked according to package

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 package of mozzarella, cubed

1 cup basil cut into ribbons

salt and pepper to taste

For Vinaigrette:

1/2 c. White Balsalmic

1/4 c. Olive Oil

Juice of 1 Lemon

1 teaspoon Dijion Mustard

1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper

Directions:

Cook orzo according to directions, then drain and return to pot. While it is cooking, make vinegrette, whisking together ingredients and pouring half of the vinegrette onto the hot pasta.

Once orzo has cooled, toss with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and remaining dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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