My Greek parents tried Ina Garten's new Greek orzo salad and now they can't stop making it
I recently made Ina Garten's Greek orzo salad for my Greek parents.
The light and refreshing salad features feta, orzo, chickpeas, Kalamata olives, and red bell pepper.
My parents loved the delicious dish, and now they can't stop making it for dinner.
I love reviewing Ina Garten's recipes, and often have my parents test them with me.
When the pandemic hit and the US went into lockdown, it was Garten who inspired me to finally improve my skills in the kitchen. And when I briefly moved back in with my parents, they were more than happy to sample my creations.
It's since become a tradition, and now I whip up new "Barefoot Contessa" dishes for my parents every time I visit.
So when I saw that Garten had a new Greek orzo salad recipe, I knew my Greek parents had to try it.
My parents immigrated to the US from Greece in the 1980s, and they made sure to teach me about Greek culture through food. My dad made his delicious pastitsio (like lasagna, but better) every week, and avgolemono soup was always served for dinner when one of us was sick. Every Christmas was celebrated with a big pan of baklava, and youvetsi was a staple comfort dinner.
But my parents are always willing to try something new — they tested 15 different "Greek" products from Trader Joe's just to see which ones tasted authentic! So when I told them Garten had a new Greek orzo salad, they were super excited.
Garten's Greek orzo salad is packed with fresh ingredients.
To make Garten's Greek orzo salad, which serves six, you'll need:
1 cup orzo (about 8 ounces)
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups baby arugula
4 ounces Greek feta, ½-inch diced (not crumbled)
½ cup good olive oil
½ cup diced red bell pepper (¼-inch)
½ cup diced red onion (¼-inch)
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
¼ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons capers in brine, drained
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Garten's Greek orzo salad appears in her most recent cookbook "Go-To Dinners," and was inspired by Round Swamp Farm, a third-generation family farm in East Hampton.
"Their prepared food and baked goods are simply outstanding," she writes. "This recipe was inspired by one of their salads; it has all the Greek ingredients that I love — orzo, olives, feta, lemon, and dill."
The first step to making Garten's salad is prepping the orzo.
I brought six cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.
I added the orzo and one tablespoon of salt to my saucepan.
Once you've added the orzo, Garten says you should return the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for eight to 10 minutes. You'll know it's ready when the orzo is al dente.
While my orzo cooked, I began cutting my veggies.
I diced the red onion and red bell pepper, per Garten's instructions.
I also prepped my chickpeas and capers.
I rinsed and drained the chickpeas and made sure to drain my capers.
I also halved my Kalamata olives, minced the dill, and diced my feta cheese.
Garten's Greek orzo salad comes together super quick, the only real work is cutting all the veggies and herbs. I had my dad helping me, so it took even less time.
It didn't take long to make the dressing.
I just whisked together the lemon juice and olive oil with two tablespoons of salt and one teaspoon of black pepper and voila! It was ready.
Once the orzo was al dente, I drained it and transferred my pasta to a large bowl.
It was time to build the salad.
First I poured the vinaigrette over the warm pasta.
I made sure to stir it well so the orzo would absorb all that delicious flavor.
Then I added the chickpeas, onion, and bell pepper.
Everything was already looking so colorful.
I topped it off with the capers, dill, olives, and feta and gave everything a big stir.
I used two spoons to help me carefully combine all the ingredients together.
I stirred in the arugula just before serving.
Garten says you can enjoy her salad either warm or at room temperature, but make sure you hold off on adding the arugula if you're making it the day before — no one likes soggy leaves in their salad. Once you're ready to serve, also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and taste for seasoning.
I should also note that Garten advises serving this with sliced lemon. My parents didn't love the idea of whole lemon pieces being in the salad, so we decided to nix it.
Garten's Greek orzo salad looked fresh and vibrant.
I always love serving a salad that's full of color, and Garten's Greek orzo salad has plenty.
The pop of red from the bell pepper, the fresh green from the arugula, and the bright purple from the onion all worked together to make a beautiful plate.
My parents definitely looked impressed as I brought the salad to the dinner table. But would it taste as good as it looked?
Garten's Greek orzo salad was super delicious — and now my parents can't stop making it.
The orzo soaks up so many delicious Mediterranean flavors that are familiar to any Greek — the salty chunks of feta intertwining with the rich Kalamata olives, the crisp bell pepper and red onion dancing together, that pop of fresh lemon brightening every bite. Even though there were so many different components to the salad, everything was perfectly balanced.
The light and refreshing salad is also really easy to make and still tastes great the next day. It's perfect for a barbecue side, or a main dish on a hot summer night (my dad recommends pairing it with some grilled meats or fish).
My parents have already whipped up Garten's Greek orzo salad a couple of times since our last taste test, and I'm not surprised. The lovely dish tastes like something we would've eaten while watching the turquoise waves of the Aegean Sea during our summer trips back to Greece.
"Ina must've been Greek in one of her previous lives," my mom declared.
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