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Author Notes: I've had so many pesto pasta salads at summer potlucks and picnics, and though they're always tasty, I thought it might be fun to play with the basic idea and totally mix up the herbs and vegetables. My husband is an orzo fiend, so I used that, but I should think other small shaped pastas like ditalini, or even Israeli couscous would also be really good. —fiveandspice
Serves 8 or so
- 1 cup packed, flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup packed, cilantro
- 1 cup packed, fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound orzo
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 medium zucchinis, cut into quarter inch thick "coins"
- 2 yellow summer squash, cut the same way as the zucchini
- 1 large Vidalia onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 red chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
- 8 ounces ricotta salata, cut into small cubes (or use feta)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a food processor, pulse together the parsley, cilantro, mint, dill and garlic until finely chopped. Then, add the olive oil in a drizzle while processing to make a smooth herb pistou. Stir in 1/2 tsp. of salt and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente (9-10 minutes). Drain, transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 Tbs. olive oil. Then, add the pistou and toss well.
- In a large frying pan heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sliced onion, give a stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook until soft and browned, 10 or so more minutes. Stir in a little pinch of salt. Then, scrape the onions into the bowl with the orzo.
- Return the pan to the stove, add the remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil, heat, and then fry the zucchini and summer squash in batches over medium-high heat until golden brown and soft. Remove from the heat and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Toss the orzo with the onion, zucchini, and summer squash. Finally, stir in the pistachios and the ricotta salata or feta. Taste and adjust the seasonings if you wish.
- Serve warm, or cold, or pack along in a massive Tupperware bowl for a picnic!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Picnic Dish
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