On a recent gathering with friends I took on the challenge to make a quick and delicious pasta salad that was to stand out and make the night memorable. I found such a recipe while looking for ideas online. While reading the recipe on Food Network’s site, a couple of ingredients caught my attention – honey and red onions. These two ingredients that sparked my curiosity since I love both but never thought of combining them in a pasta salad.
When I served the salad some of my friends were pleasantly surprised because the taste of honey was unexpected. A few nights later I made the salad again for a family party and this time I made some very interesting changes that not only added to the feeling of Fall but also gave a touch of spicyness to the dish. I decided to add dried cranberries, Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar and jalepeno peppers. The cranberries and balsamic vinegar gave the dish a sweet-Fall taste while the hot peppers delighted your taste buds by making you very aware of the fresh herbs that were also in the mix. The end result was wonderful, but I couldn’t have done it without the original recipe. Here’s the altered recipe:
Orzo Fall Salad
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt for cooking pasta
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup of chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup of finely chopped jalepeno peppers, seeded.
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
About 3/4 cup Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour water into a heavy large saucepan. Cover the pan and bring water to a boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of salt. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.
Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, cranberries, jalepeno peppers, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of Red Apple Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Mix the vinegars, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.
Yield: 1 3/4 cups
You can visit Carter & Cavero at their store in Red Bank and in Pier Village in Long Branch, New Jersey or shop online at www.carterandcavero.com.