If you are looking for options for having a fresh entrée, side dish, or even a main course for a light dinner, salads seem to be the right choice.
Salads are a versatile dish prepared with a mixture of cooked or raw ingredients, such as vegetables, nuts, beans, seafood, eggs, meat, chicken, fruit, rice, pasta and so much more.
There are various types of salads classified according to their ingredients, methods of preparation, and even serving temperature: cold or warm salads.
Regarding the ingredients, salads can be green salads, side salads, composed salads, and desserts salads. Preparation methods are grouped into simple, composed, and tossed salads.
According to the time you will serve them, they can be appetizer, accompaniment, main course separate course, and desserts salads.
Looking at these wide ranges of options, it could be very confusing deciding which one to prepare. For any occasion, you could have a salad as a complimentary dish or even the star of your meals.
A starting point for making a choice would be to take a look at the most popular salads worldwide. Maybe you have eaten some of them ignoring their origins.
Every country has its traditional salad that represents its taste through the native ingredients and cooking methods. Some of the most known salads worldwide are Caprese from Italy, Niçoise from France, Waldorf from the U.S., and Tabbouleh from Syria.
Even though all countries have typical salads; they also have some that are only popular inside their region. For example, Italy has an extensive repertoire of salads recipes with strong fresh flavors and typical Italian dressing.
Almost all Italian salads include fresh and colorful ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, lettuces, olives, and herbs. The final touch is given by the well-known Italian dressing. It includes garlic, oregano, basil, wine vinegar, and olive oil. Other recipes include seafood, chicken, and pasta like orzo, and rice.
An orzo salad is very common in Italy. Orzo is rice-shaped pasta made of semolina flour. It is confused with rice because of its shape, but it is pasta, and it is cooked like it.
Orzo is quite a versatile ingredient and, like rice, it is used in a lot of dishes. It is preferred for soups, side dishes, and salads. In salads, it is best combined with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, cheese, spinach, or lettuce.
See a couple of the typical orzo salad recipes:
Fresh Orzo Salad
- 1 1/2 cup orzo pasta
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 diced onion
- 1 diced cucumber
- 1 cup feta cheese
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- In a saucepan of boiling water add orzo and cook for 10 minutes. Let it cool down.
- In a bowl, place cherry tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and cooled orzo. Stir very well.
- In another bowl, make the dressing by combining olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, basil, onion powder, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Dress the salad to taste and mix very well.
- Add feta cheese prior to serving
Spinach Orzo Salad
- 1 baking tray
- 1 saucepan
- 1 food processor
- 1 salad bowl
- 1 head garlic
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup orzo
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 cup cooked, chopped artichoke hearts
- 1/2 cup fontina cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- In a baking tray, place the head of garlic without the bulb, pour some olive oil all over it, and roast in an oven until the cloves are browned.
- Peel cloves of garlic
- Cook orzo in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes and reserve
- In a food processor, add 1/2 cup of baby spinach, some lemon juice, and 4 tbsp of olive oil and puree
- In a frying pan, pour olive oil and th remaining 1/2 cup of baby spinach, cook gently and set aside.
- Combine orzo, spinach puree, salted spinach, artichokes, roasted garlic, cheeses, parsley, and remaining lemon juice.
- Stir well and serve warm, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Feel free to experiment with your own ingredients and create an orzo salad you and your family will love!