This sun-dried tomato orzo salad features fresh spinach, lots of salty feta and crunchy pepitas, and roasted cherry tomatoes, and is finished with a simple, homemade Italian vinaigrette.
I love a good summer salad, don’t you? It has to be simple, it has to be quick, and it has to be fresh fresh fresh! This sun-dried tomato orzo salad fits the bill, and it’s just in time for all this beautiful warm weather we’ve been having lately!
I’m spending this weekend in Sanibel, Florida for a dear friends’ bachelorette party. Currently sitting at Panera Bread and waiting for my sister to get her butt into town so we can hit the beach with everyone else asap! What is your favorite place to spend these hot sunny summer days?
Ironically given the hot weather outside, the idea for this salad was based on a cold orzo salad on the menu at 40 Acres Tavern at Boyne Mountain, a northern Michigan ski resort that we frequent in the winter months. Which should tell you how perfectly suited this salad is, that it is such a fitting summer salad but also makes perfect sense in the winter months!
So back to this salad. Because I promise you’re gonna want to eat it over and over again once you try it. It’s got the veggies. It’s got the crunch. It’s got lovely salty cheese. And it’s got the tastiest homemade Italian vinaigrette I ever did have, with my secret ingredient: honey!
Probably one of my favorite veggies (or are they a fruit? The world may never know!) is tomatoes, and roasted is the way to prepare them. There is just nothing like beautiful caramelization you get from roasting them in the oven, while retaining that juicy *pop* when you bite down on them!
While the tomatoes are roasting and the orzo is cooking, I prepare this simple homemade Italian vinaigrette. (Make it yourself, I promise you it’s better than that bottled stuff!). In addition to the traditional vinegar, mustard, and Italian herb blend, I like to add a little bit of honey to my Italian vinaigrette to give it a beautifully sweet end note that helps to cut through what can sometimes be too tangy of a dressing. Try it: you won’t go back to regular Italian dressing, I promise!
Now it’s your turn: what’s your favorite summer salad? Share with me by commenting below!
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for pasta water
- 1 1/2 cups whole what orzo
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread cherry tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss gently until evenly coated, then cook in oven for 20-25 minutes until they start to char and blister. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add orzo and cook about 9-10 minutes until cooked, then drain and rinse with cool water. Transfer orzo to a large mixing bowl. Add blistered cherry tomatoes to bowl.
- While tomatoes and orzo are cooling, prepare salad dressing. Add white wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk while slowly streaming in the olive oil until emulsified.
- To the orzo salad, add spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, pepitas, and basil. Add about half the dressing and toss until well coated. Serve with extra dressing on the side.