I brought this to a rooftop garden party the other evening and when all was said and done, about one scoop was left. True to form, this pasta salad did not disappoint!
The original title for this recipe is Orzo with Everything hailing from a 1998 Bon Appétit magazine. It was introduced to me several years ago from a good friend who knows how to put on a great spread for a crowd. This has become a family favourite and summer staple when we throw parties up at the lake. It’s quite easy to pull together, requires minimum prep, and the variety of flavours complementing each other: salty olives, bitter radicchio, sweet balsamic, warming and peppery olive oil, titch of cream from the parmesan, tangy sundried tomatoes, and the freshness of the basil, all come together beautifully. I will advise… make a double batch! Two reasons: first, people will come back for more, and second, if there are any leftovers, you will definitely want it for the next day!
The salad is dressed when the pasta is warm and I find it sucks in a lot of moisture from the oil and vinegar. You may want to give it another drizzle of olive oil just before serving to loosen it up a bit.
And now, on to the recipe. Orzo pasta is typically the star in this show. I couldn’t find any in my neighbourhood so I went down the street to my local, fabulous Italian restaurant, Casa Sabatelli, and they sorted me out with one of their smallest pastas: conchigliette (small shells). These worked a charm. I stopped by the restaurant to give them a taste and got their seal of approval! 🙂
Ingredients for the salad:
- 1 1/2 cups conchigliette, (or other small pasta shape, such as orzo; about 275 grams)
- 1/3 cup (packed) chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup (packed) chopped Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, pits removed
- 1 cup finely chopped radicchio (about 1 small head)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to be added when the pasta has had time to cool.)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (for garnish)
For the dressing:
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
To make the dressing:Place the ingredients for the dressing into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
To make the salad:
- Bring to boil a large pot of salted water. Add the pasta, and cook until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, prep the sundried tomatoes, olives, radicchio, and basil. Add these ingredients to the large bowl, along with the dressing.
- When the pasta has cooked, drain it and add it to the large bowl with the dressing and veg. Toss everything together to incorporate all of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste and set it aside to cool for a good 4-6 hours. After about an hour, give it another stir and if you’ve got room for it, place the salad in the fridge.
- When you are ready to serve the salad, add the grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts. Give everything another toss, another taste, and another glug of olive oil to bring all of the ingredients together. Serve this alongside other salads, or your favourite grilled meat or fish. Enjoy… again, and again, and again!