OK friends – here is a fantastic quick vegetarian recipe for you! This Greek pasta salad recipe is the epitome of a FRESH summer vegetarian meal- take a bite – smile – take another bite (look around – is anyone watching?) – smile again – take yet another bite – tell yourself to stop! – then take one last bite. And this is during the prep phase – before sharing with others. Once it rests and marries in the frig overnight – watch out – flavor explosion in your mouth!
Michael and I took a day trip to Ludington and I made this for a convenient and healthy on-the-go lunch. Usually pasta salads are on the heavy side with the carbohydrate element, but the use of orzo really lightens things up. It’s smart to balance out the slow burning carbohydrates (pasta) with vegetables, protein, and fats to lower the overall glycemic index of the meal which helps to keep insulin levels in check (and your weight in check!).
The dressing is quick and savory with the addition of herbamare – a fine sea salt infused with herbs and vegetables (yum!!!) The tomatoes are fresh from the garden, and the smoked gouda is a special addition. Not a fan of smoked cheese? This salad will be equally delicious using whatever cheese you prefer – chunks of a sharp cheddar, a creamy havarti, or gorgonzola crumbles come to mind. Want to keep it dairy-free? Substitute smoked tofu or add extra nuts for protein. I love the chopped pistachios in this salad but why not try almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds – I add nuts as often as possible to my vegetarian meals for healthy whole food protein and I snack on them throughout the day. Pack it up and enjoy at the beach or share at your next summer picnic. A super delicious and healthy vegetarian meal for busy people on the go!
- ¼ cup mayonnaise, plain yogurt, or non-dairy yogurt or mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon Herbamare (or salt & pepper)
- ½ pound dry orzo pasta, cooked, drained and chilled
- 20 kalamata olives
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 roasted red pepper - from a jar for convenience
- ½ cucumber, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 4 scallions, diced
- 4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, diced
- 3-4 tablespoons pistachios, chopped
- Optional - 4 tablespoons fresh chopped mint or basil
- FOR THE DRESSING - Combine the olive oil, mayonnaise or yogurt, vinegar, and Herbamare (or salt and pepper) Whisk well.
- FOR THE SALAD - Pour the dressing over the chilled orzo. Add the olives, tomatoes, roasted red pepper, cucumber, celery, and scallion. Salt & Pepper to taste. Toss. Add the cheese and chopped pistachios. Toss again
- CHILL OVERNIGHT if possible
- Before serving, taste for salt & pepper and possibly more vinegar. Enjoy!!