My Greek Parents Tried Ina Garten’s New Greek Orzo Salad and Now They Can’t Stop Making It
I recently made Ina Garten’s Greek Orzo Salad for my Greek parents.
The light and refreshing salad includes feta, orzo, chickpeas, Kalamata olives and red pepper.
My parents loved this delicious dish, and now they can’t resist making it for dinner.
I love reviewing Ina Garten’s recipes and often ask my parents to try them with me.
When the pandemic hit and the United States went into lockdown, it was Garten who inspired me to finally improve my cooking skills. And when I briefly moved in with my parents, they were more than happy to sample my creations.
It has since become a tradition, and now I make new “Barefoot Contessa” dishes for my parents every visit.
So when I saw Garten had a new recipe for Greek Orzo Salad, I knew my Greek parents had to try it.
My parents immigrated to the United States from Greece in the 1980s and they made sure to teach me about Greek culture through food. My dad made his delicious pastitsio every week (like lasagna, only better), and avgolemono soup was always served with dinner when one of us was sick. Every Christmas was celebrated with a large pot of baklava, and youvetsi was a staple comfort food dinner.
But my parents are always up for trying something new – they tested 15 different “Greek” products from Trader Joe’s just to see which tasted authentic! So when I told them Garten had a new Greek orzo salad, they were super excited.
Garten’s Greek Orzo Salad is packed with fresh ingredients.
To make Garten’s Greek Orzo Salad, which serves six, you’ll need:
1 cup orzo (about 8 ounces)
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups baby arugula
4 ounces Greek feta cheese, cut into ½-inch dice (not crumbled)
½ cup good olive oil
½ cup diced red bell pepper (¼ inch)
½ cup diced red onion (¼ inch)
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons capers in brine, drained
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Garten’s Greek Orzo Salad features in his latest cookbook “Go-To Dinners” and was inspired by Round Swamp Farm, a third-generation family farm in East Hampton.
“Their ready meals and baked goods are simply outstanding,” she writes. “This recipe was inspired by one of their salads; it has all the Greek ingredients I love: orzo, olives, feta, lemon and dill.”
The first step in making the Garten salad is to prepare the orzo.
I brought six cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.
I added the orzo and a tablespoon of salt to my pan.
Once you’ve added the orzo, Garten says you should bring the water back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for eight to 10 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the orzo is al dente.
While my orzo was cooking, I started chopping my vegetables.
I diced the red onion and red pepper according to Garten’s instructions.
I also prepared my chickpeas and my capers.
I rinsed and drained the chickpeas and made sure to drain my capers.
I also halved my Kalamata olives, chopped the dill, and diced my feta cheese.
Garten’s Greek Orzo Salad comes together very quickly, the only real work is chopping up all the vegetables and herbs. I had my dad helping me, so it took even less time.
It didn’t take long to do the dressing.
I just mixed the lemon juice and olive oil with two tablespoons of salt and a teaspoon of black pepper and voila! It was ready.
Once the orzo was al dente, I drained it and transferred my pasta to a large bowl.
It was time to build the salad.
First I poured the dressing over the hot pasta.
I made sure to stir well so the orzo soaked up all that delicious flavor.
Then I added the chickpeas, onion and bell pepper.
Everything already looked so colorful.
I topped it off with the capers, dill, olives and feta and tossed it all together.
I used two spoons to help me mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
I tossed the arugula just before serving.
Garten says you can enjoy her salad warm or at room temperature, but make sure you don’t add the arugula if you’re making it the day before — no one likes soggy leaves in their salad. Once you’re ready to serve, also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and taste for seasoning.
I should also note that Garten advises serving it with slices of lemon. My parents didn’t like the idea of whole lemon chunks in the salad, so we decided to cut it out.
Garten’s Greek orzo salad looked fresh and vibrant.
I always like to serve a salad that’s full of color, and Garten’s Orzo Greek Salad has plenty of that.
The hint of red from the bell pepper, the fresh green from the arugula and the bright purple from the onion all worked together to make a lovely plate.
My parents looked really impressed when I brought the salad to the table. But would it be as good as it looked?
Garten’s Greek Orzo Salad was super delicious – and now my parents can’t stop making it.
Orzo soaks up so many delicious Mediterranean flavors familiar to all Greeks – the salty chunks of feta cheese intertwining with rich Kalamata olives, crisp bell pepper and red onion dancing together, that splash of fresh lemon illuminating every bite. Even though there were so many different components in the salad, everything was perfectly balanced.
The light and refreshing salad is also very easy to prepare and still tastes great the next day. It’s perfect as a side dish on the barbecue or as a main course on a hot summer night (my dad recommends serving it with grilled meats or fish).
My parents have made Garten’s Greek Orzo Salad several times since our last taste test, and I’m not surprised. The pretty dish tastes like something we would have eaten while watching the turquoise waves of the Aegean Sea during our summer travels in Greece.
“Ina must have been Greek in one of her past lives,” my mother said.
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