Orzo with mixed herb pistou

June 23, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Serves 8 or so
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Serve warm, or cold, or pack along in a massive Tupperware bowl for a picnic!
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  • gingerroot
  • Midge
  • fiveandspice
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • EmilyC

13 Reviews

gingerroot June 27, 2011
Really love your herb packed spin on pesto pasta salad! Pistachios and ricotta salata are wonderful additions.
fiveandspice June 27, 2011
Thanks so much gingerroot!
Midge June 26, 2011
Yum! Love all the herbs, ricotta salata, and pistachios in here.
fiveandspice June 27, 2011
Thanks Midge! It's a very flavorful combo. :)
fiveandspice June 24, 2011
Ack, and true to my spacey self (I blame it on being in academia), I forgot to say to fry the chopped chiles along with the zucchini and summer squash!
sexyLAMBCHOPx June 24, 2011
Visited my local farmers market yesterday, and have everything except for the fresh cilantro - including home-made ricotta salata. Making this now and will substitute with some tarragon. Yum!
fiveandspice June 24, 2011
Let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear how it is with tarragon, since I was actually considering using tarragon as I looked over my herb pots, but then decided on the mint and a little dill instead. Also, I'm way jealous that you have homemade ricotta salata! I really need to learn cheese making beyond ricotta.
EmilyC June 24, 2011
Sounds so good, I'm saving this to my file! Basil pesto can get kind of boring so I like your revved-up version. And the fried squash and pistachios are great additions. I've been kind of obsessed of late with toasting orzo until it's brown and nutty before boiling it...I'll bet that would work well here.
sexyLAMBCHOPx June 24, 2011
I'm with you on the orzo toasting!
fiveandspice June 24, 2011
LOVE the idea of toasting the orzo! I'll definitely try that next time. Once you've toasted the orzo, do you add water to it and bring it to a boil, or do you scrape it into a pot of boiling water?
EmilyC June 24, 2011
I add water and bring it to a boil (a ratio of 1 1/4 cups toasted orzo to 2 cups water works well), then cover and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed. I can't wait to try your recipe...LOVE the flavor combinations.
hardlikearmour June 23, 2011
I love the freshness your herb combo will bring to the party. The salty and ricotta salata & the crunchy pistachios are perfect additions to the orzo and veggies. Love it.
fiveandspice June 24, 2011
Thank you hla! It's almost like an herb salad, with some pasta thrown in! I tend to like to go big on herbs. :)