I’ve shared a lot of recipes so far on Love and Duck Fat, but I can’t believe it’s taken me THIS LONG to share this one. You see, my orzo salad recipe is legendary (in my small circle of friends and family). It has actually made an appearance once on my blog before in photos, but I never got around to posting the recipe. You can see it here at my son’s first birthday party.
Orzo salad is one of the recipes I make over and over. I serve it at parties, I pack it up for lunch, we eat it for dinner, late night snacks and even the occasional breakfast–and we never tire of it.
The inspiration for my orzo salad recipe first came from Whole Food’s orzo salad; which is good. When I lived in Boston, I regularly picked up a pint of it on my way to work. I decided to improve on their recipe, which is why this salad is so much better. I make sure that every bite has something fresh and yummy in it. The mix of tastes and textures make this orzo salad so much fun to eat. There’s feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, baby spinach, artichokes, black olives, roasted peppers, balsamic vinegar and lots of good olive oil. I mix in fresh herbs like rosemary and mint and they really amp up the flavor.
Most of these ingredients are something I keep on hand in my pantry and refrigerator at all times, so it’s easy to make this salad whenever I want. It’s also easy to customize, adding or subtracting whatever you have on hand or desire.
Once made, this orzo salad keeps well too. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days and still be as good as when you first made it. Bring it to a pot luck or serve it at a barbecue this summer and see it disappear. Every time I make it, I get asked for the recipe, which is why I’m so happy to finally share it here with everyone on Love and Duck Fat.
If you do make this salad, I would love to hear how much you enjoyed it in the comment section below.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain pasta and add it to a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss. Allow to cool completely.
Using a small skillet toast the pine nuts over medium-high heat until they are slightly brown and fragrant.
Toss the orzo with the pine nuts, tomato, onion, herbs, artichokes, olives, feta cheese, cucumber and red pepper.
Add the spinach leaves and vinaigrette. Toss again. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Roasting vegetables has become my “thing”. It’s my go-to for cooking just about anything–like this Burrata cheese and roasted vegetable stack– because the flavors are so good. When you roast something, the flavors intensify because the liquid is released and flavors concentrate. Very little fuss is needed beyond a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil to bring out the best in any vegetable.
The opposite happens when you boil or steam a vegetable. Do it too long, and you end up with a waterlogged, bland and floppy excuse for a veggie on your plate. No wonder so many people don’t like to eat their vegetables.
Whether you love to eat your vegetables or not, this recipe will blow your mind. There’s the creamy-sweet taste of eggplant, mild zucchini and yellow squash, and an intense zing from the tomato, all combined with deliriously-buttery Burrata cheese. Combine that with a drizzle of 18-year-old Balsamic vinegar and I guarantee clean plates. It’s a Meatless Monday (or any day) recipe everyone will love. I served mine with a side of angle hair pasta tossed in extra virgin olive oil and some fresh herbs. It’s that simple.
It’s also a meal you will pay a good amount of money for in a good restaurant. Instead, you get to eat your roasted vegetable & Burrata cheese stack in your pajamas on the couch, while catching up on past episodes of Game of Thrones. The baby is sleeping and your husband leans over to kiss your cheek saying, “kiss the cook,” because that’s what he does every time you cook a good (or bad) meal. Who could ask for more?
More roasted vegetable recipes:
Try this Burrata appetizer recipe:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/190 degrees C
Slice the eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini into 1/2-inch discs, crosswise. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat.
Note: You may need to use two sheet pans to roast all of the vegetables depending on size. In that case, use more olive oil. The tomatoes release a lot of liquid, so it's best to cook them separately.
Place the vegetables in the oven to roast for 20 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove the vegetables from the oven when they are lightly browned and tender. The tomatoes should be shrunken in size and collapsed. Plate them warm, or allow to cool to room temperature.
Stack the vegetables on serving plates, alternating each type so you have 2 slices of eggplant, 2 slices of zucchini, 2 slices of yellow squash, 1 tomato (or 4 cherry) and 1 green onion per plate.
Slice the Burrata in half and scoop onto the stack using a spoon. Drizzle the plate with balsamic vinegar.
One of the few pre-packaged baby foods my little one eats on a consistent basis is Happy Family’s organic Amaranth Ratatouille. It’s slightly textured with grains of quinoa and filled with yummy vegetables. I decided to make something similar at home and it tastes even better than the one in the store. This homemade baby food quinoa ratatouille is filled with zucchini, eggplant, sweet peppers, squash and tomato, with the addition of quinoa.
If you haven’t jumped on the quinoa train yet, making it for your baby is a good start. It cooks quickly and is full of protein, fiber, iron, antioxidants and other good-for-you stuff. The tiny seed is small enough for baby to eat, which is why you find it in many of my recipes, and in the store brands as well. Did you know The Food and Agriculture Organization of the Nations named 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa?” I just found that out.
Back to the ratatouille. This is the same dish featured in the movie by the same name, and the baby food version is yummy. I tried some, my husband tried some. Grandma would have eaten the whole bowl if we let her. It’s really flavorful and healthy too!
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, eggplant, sweet pepper, zucchini, tomato, tomato paste, quinoa and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa has "sprouted" and the vegetables are tender. Add more broth if necessary during cooking.
Remove from the heat and stir in fresh herbs and cheese. Puree in a food processor until you reach the desired consistency, adding additional vegetable broth or water if needed.
This recipe for the best ever tuna tomato melt was adapted from a dish served in a restaurant called Fiddlers in South Florida. The restaurant no longer exists, but my fond memories of eating there as a kid do. My mom and I would always order their “tuna tomato crisp.” It was a massive beefsteak tomato sliced open, piled with tuna salad and topped with lots of melted cheddar. Over the years, I haven’t found a tuna tomato melt that compares, so I created my own version so I could enjoy it at home.
What makes this special is the way the tomato is sliced open. It’s easy to do, doesn’t wobble around and cooks very fast. I usually make this in a medium-large ripe tomato, but you can make this really fun by choosing small tomatoes or even cherry tomatoes. Top with lots of melted cheese, blast in a hot oven and everyone will love them. The best part is you don’t need to spend time coring and stuffing the tomato. Just split it open like a flower and pile the tuna on top.
This recipe starts with really good tuna salad. It has lots of crunchy veggies and is light on the mayonnaise. Make your tuna however you prefer, but just try it this way once. You may thank me. You can serve the tomato on top of your favorite salad mix or baby spinach. Dress it very lightly or not at all. There is so much flavor in this recipe, you don’t need a lot of dressing. I could eat this every day. It’s healthy and really, really yum.
Yield: 2 servings
This recipe makes a little extra tuna salad.
Heat oven or toaster oven to broil.
Drain the tuna and add to a small bowl. Using a fork, flake the tuna. Mix in the onion, celery, pickle (or relish or capers), mayonnaise, mustard and parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Cut out the stem from the tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in slices, without cutting through the bottom. Press your hand on the top of the tomato to fan out the slices. Pack the tuna salad into the tomatoes and arrange on a foil covered sheet pan. Top each with 1-2 slices of cheese, depending on how indulgent you are feeling.
Pop the stuffed tomatoes into the oven, close to the top heat and keep your eye on them. The goal is to just melt the cheese and get a little brown crust. This should take about 5-8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place the tomatoes on top of your dressed salad greens.
I’ve been making an effort to cook eggplant more often. It’s one of those vegetables too often relegated to a single dish: Eggplant Parmesan.
Lately, in an effort to make eggplant my friend, I buy one every time I hit the market. The organic ones on my grocery shelf come wrapped in plastic. It helps them keep longer, and relieves me of the pressure to eat them quickly like tomatoes or spinach. This makes them friendlier, but I’m still wary of that “bitterness” people describe. Each time, I diligently salt and sweat my eggplant to remove this bitterness, but someday I just may try preparing it without.
Don’t let this extra step deter you from cooking eggplant more often. It is really easy to prepare and has a delicious texture when cooked – similar to mushrooms.
I used a jar of organic pasta sauce in this recipe to make it super easy and added fresh baby spinach to pump up the nutrition and flavor. You can also make your own sauce using canned or fresh tomatoes, just adjust the seasoning to taste.
First, cut your eggplant into large slices the long way, about 1 inch thick. Lay them on paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt on both sides. Allow to “sweat” for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse the salt from the eggplant and cut into chunks. In a bowl, toss the eggplant salt, pepper and a generous swig of olive oil. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.
While the eggplant is cooking, sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and chili flakes. Add tomato sauce and season to taste.
While your sauce is simmering, bring your pasta water to a boil. Season the water with salt and cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and toss it while it’s still hot with the tomato sauce. Now toss in your baked eggplant, spinach and basil. Serve topped with crumbles of Parmesan cheese.