Antipasto Orzo Salad
By: 
Dish Type: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredient prep: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 entrĂ©e servings
 
Creamy fresh tomato dressing--without any dairy or eggs--puts a fresh twist on the ubiquitous summer pasta salad. Antipasto favorites, peppery torn arugula, and addictive garlicky roasted chickpeas add texture, taste, and nutrition to a base of dressed orzo pasta.
Ingredients
Garlic roasted chickpeas
  • 1 15 oz. can (1½ C cooked) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • ½ t garlic salt (or more as desired)
Salad
  • ½ lb. dry orzo pasta (whole wheat or white; whole wheat pictured)
  • 1 15 oz. can artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into short strips
  • 20 pitted kalamata olives, sliced into rounds or halves
  • 20 marinated whole mushrooms, quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ C basil chiffonade or finely chopped parsley
  • 2 - 3 oz. firm feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
  • 2 C roughly torn arugula leaves (1.5 oz.) plus more whole leaves for serving
  • ⅓ C toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts
Make It
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and move rack near bottom.
  2. Bring about 3 quarts water to a boil while you prepare the chickpeas. Dry chickpeas by placing between 2 layers of a clean dish towel and rubbing gently. On a rimmed sheet pan, toss them with 1 tablespoon oil and garlic salt to coat well. Bake until golden in places and slightly dry on the outside, but not crunchy throughout, about 13 to 15 minutes. Shake the pan once or twice during baking. Set chickpeas aside to cool.
  3. When water boils, salt generously and cook orzo al dente according to package instructions. Test during the last couple minutes to avoid overcooking, and don't rinse after draining. In a large bowl, combine warm pasta with about a third of the dressing. Set in the fridge to cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Stir artichokes, bell pepper, olives, mushrooms, and the remaining dressing into the orzo. Fold in the fresh herbs, feta, and torn arugula. The chickpeas can be stirred into the salad or served on top. Check for final seasoning, but it's unlikely you'll need it, given the many salty ingredients and peppery arugula.
  4. If desired, serve orzo salad over a bed of arugula (best to skip this if you're bringing it to a potluck or picnic) and top with toasted seeds or nuts.
Notes
Make this salad your own. There are plenty of options to choose from at the antipasto bar at many grocery stores, so if you have a favorite, go for it! If you don't like feta, small cubes of provolone would be tasty. You can also add strips or cubes of cured meat, if that's your thing. But...

As written, the recipe is vegetarian and gluten free. It could easy be made vegan by checking your ingredients and omitting cheese.
Recipe by Natural Comfort Kitchen at http://www.naturalcomfortkitchen.com/antipasto-orzo-salad-garlic-chickpeas/