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Apr 22, 2005 05:29 PM

Need carbo side dish--couscous, rice, orzo salad?

  • l

Saturday night I am going to a casual dinner get-together at the home of a friend who is a very good cook. We are supposed to be having grilled fish and veg (the menu might change a bit as thunderstorms are forecast). I am to bring a side for the meal, some kind of carb that can be served at room temperature. But I am coming up blank! I'd like to do something light and spring-y although it is still early for a lot of good produce.

Thanks in advance for any chowhelp...

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  1. This is a good one...I get lots of requests for the recipe when I bring it anywhere.

    Orzo and Vegetable Salad

    1-1/2 c. orzo
    1 med.zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin
    10 klamata olives, pitted and sliced
    4 scallions, sliced thinly
    1 celery rib, sliced thinly
    1 med. tomato, seeded and cubed
    1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
    1/3 c. minced parsley
    1/3 c. olive oil
    2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tsp. dried oregano
    1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill or 1 tsp. dry
    1/2 tsp. salt
    freshly ground pepper
    4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (2/3 cup)
    2 Tbsp. mayo

    Cook orzo as directed until tender, not mushy. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again. Place in large bowl to which you add all the veggies including the parsley. In small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, s&p. Pour over salad and toss to coat well. Sprinkle feta over. Toss again. Spoon the mayo over and toss gently to coat. Chill at least 2 hours. Serve at room temp.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pat Darnell

      I was going to suggest a similar salad that I make, but I use whatever fresh herbs are available, skip the mayo, and use seasonal vegetables. You can use whatever combination of herbs and vegetables you like--maybe morels, asparagus, english peas, baby carrots, and leeks this time of year might be good with fresh thyme or tarragon, and parsley. In summer I do tomatoes, eggplant, roasted red bell peppers and zucchini with basil or oregano.

      1. re: farmersdaughter

        Your suggestions sound great to me!! Along these lines, I'd be inclined to make a side dish of:

        Orzo, peas, lemon zest, and fresh mint w/ a light vinaigrette of lemon juice, EVOO, S&P (this may be lighter and more spring-like)


        Quinoa w/ sauteed leeks and mushrooms and fresh tarragon w/ a vinaigrette of sherry vinegar, dijon, EVOO, S&P

    2. There is a great orzo/arugula salad on epicurious with pine nuts and tomatoes. It gets raves everytime I make it.

      1. Don't know if I'm too late, but these have always been enjoyed when I've served them:

        Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Vinegar

        This is a really hearty, delicious rice salad. It's a make ahead. Just gets better with time. Great with grilled lamb.

        1 c. cooked wild rice (1/2 c. raw)
        1 c. cooked orzo (1/2 c. raw)
        1/2 c. black olives - sliced
        1/3 c. chopped sun dried dry pack tomatoes - softened according to package directions
        2 T. drained capers
        1/3 c. olive oil
        1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
        1 t. dried basil
        1 T. finely chopped shallot
        2 cloves garlic - minced
        1/2 t. pepper
        1/4 c. toasted pine nuts

        Mix rice, orzo, olives, tomatoes and capers.

        In a jar mix the rest of the ingredients except for the pine nuts. Pour over rice mix. Toss. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Stir in nuts before serving.


        Couscous Salad

        1 packet couscous
        1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
        1/2 English cucumber - seeded and chopped (leave the peel on)
        1/2 c. tomato - chopped (out of season, I use the grape tomatoes)
        1/4 c. Greek olives - chopped
        3 green onions - minced
        1/2 c. feta cheese
        olive oil and lemon juice - to taste
        salt and freshly ground pepper - to taste

        Prepare the couscous according to directions. Add the rest of the ingredients. Toss well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

        Serves 4-6.


        1. This is very similar to a few of the others. It's always been a hit. I use less oil than called for. The curry gives it a 'different' sort of taste.

          Balkan Rice Salad


          1 medium-sized zucchini, washed and ends removed
          1/3 cup olive oil, more if necessary
          3 T. wine vinegar
          1 cup thinly sliced red onion
          1 cup chopped pimento
          1 large clove garlic, mashed
          Salt & freshly ground black pepper
          2 T. butter
          1 small onion, minced
          1 T. tomato paste
          1 tsp. curry powder
          1 cup uncooked orzo
          2 cups chicken stock
          1 large green pepper, roasted, peeled and chopped

          1 can tuna
          2 T. minced fresh parsley
          1/2 cup sliced green olives - 1/2 cup black Greek olives

          1. Drop zucchini into fast boiling, slated water, cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Drain under cold water. Halve lengthwise and then into 1/2 inch cubes. Set aside.

          2.In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, onion, pimineto, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then pour over zucchini. Marinate 4-6 hours.

          3. Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, then add the minced onion and cook it over med. heat until it is soft but not browned. Add the tomato paste and curry and stir to coat it completely with the onion mixture, then add the stock and orzo. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Remove to a bowl and cool.

          4. Add the zucchini mixture to the rice, as well as the green pepper, (tuna etc.). Toss and taste for seasoning; might need a little more oil and vinegar. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

          Serves 6-8