Summer is here and my herb garden is in full swing. Off of our covered patio, there are steps leading into the yard and pool, and flanking the steps are two built-in planters. Over the years I have used these planters for flowers, succulents, and most recently my herb garden. In the past, the herbs were out by the small garden space at the back of our yard, but I never found it very convenient. Then one day I had the idea to move the herbs into the planter containers, and I’ve never looked back. The best thing about having the herbs there is that they are just steps from the kitchen and easy to grab cuttings from whenever I want to add fresh herbs to our meals.
After the long hard winter we had, the basil, dill
We love to use mint in iced tea, fruit salads, the occasional Mojito, and Greek Orzo Salad. This salad is so cool and refreshing, it just says summer! From the tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese, to the pine nuts, and Greek olives, this dish takes you to the Mediterranean without ever leaving home. But what really takes it over the top is the fresh mint!
Orzo Greek Salad
2-3 cups of cooked orzo, which is rice shaped pasta found on the pasta aisle
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup fresh mint, washed and rough chopped
Bottled Greek or Italian dressing to coat
Optional ingredient: Sliced red onion
Cook orzo per package directions. Add all other ingredients and stir to coat. Refrigerate to let flavors meld and add more dressing if necessary, as the orzo will really soak up the dressing. Enjoy!!
One of the great things about this salad is that it is so versatile. If you don’t have orzo, you can substitute cooked barley or quinoa, which are equally good. If you want to make it a meal rather than a side dish, add chicken or other protein of your choice. Without the protein, the salad can be left at room temperature, making it excellent for a picnic, potluck, or buffet where it can sit out for hours without fear.
The next time you are looking for a fresh and tasty summer salad, think “minty” and look no further than the Greek Orzo Salad. With the Fourth of July just around the corner, this could be the right side dish for your holiday gathering. I think you will love it!