Test Kitchen - Mediterranean Orzo Salad

I hear a lot of times from people that they don't like cooking because it's so daunting or such a time drain on the day. They get home and don't want to spend the next hour and a half cooking. Hour and a half?! I would completely understand if that were the case for me too but I'm a simple person and like making dishes that don't require an entire day out of me (though on the rare occasion, I'll go all out!). When the Test Kitchen ingredient last week came up to use Duc's freshly grown Greek basil, I could only think about how best to let the natural flavors shine. The answer was to make everything as simple as possible so we ended up throwing together a very quick-to-make yet scrumptious Mediterranean orzo salad. Hope you enjoy our recipe!

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 4 servings)

  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 lb Greek feta, cubed
  • 2 cups cracked green olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup fresh Greek basil, whole leaves
  • 1 small lemon, juice only
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Step 2: Prepping the ingredients
Start a small saucepan on medium high heat with the chicken stock. While waiting for it to boil, dice up tomatoes after removing inner parts with seeds. Cube fresh feta cheese and add to the tomatoes. Add in cracked green olives and stir. When the stock is boiling, add in orzo and let sit unstirred until the first boil. Stir gently thereafter for another 5 minutes to let the liquid evaporate. Remove from heat and let cool.

Step 3: Finishing
You don't want the orzo to be super hot when you're incorporating it into the rest of the salad so let it cool down. Wash Greek basil leaves and add to mix. Then add cooled orzo, lemon juice, and pepper. Stir and serve - it's great slightly warm and especially cold!

This week's Test Kitchen ingredient: Elderberry white balsamic reduction from Enfuso
"White Balsamic Vinegar Reductions Flavored with Real Fruit - The white balsamic base is imported. It is manufactured by combining sweetened cooked grape must and white wine vinegar to produce a light colored balsamic which is then further reduced to a thicker consistency. We flavor it in California with all natural fruit reductions/flavorings just like we do for our dark balsamic vinegar reductions. The Elderberry shows lots of rich and jammy fruit." [Enfuso]

We enjoyed tasting Enfuso's stuff from the moment we had some samples of it. I was looking for a balsamic that was really jammy so we ended up choosing this elderberry style. If you have any thoughts on how to use it or ideas on what type of food I should try to make with it, leave a comment on Facebook when the picture below goes up on the page!

Photography by Duc Duong.