Happy World Vegetarian Day Everyone!!! Be sure to eat plenty of veggies today! And a tasty way to eat some veggies is with an orzo-almond salad! I was extremely pleased with how the dried cherries added a nice zing to the dish, and the toasted almonds were just the dog’s tuxedo – so super good! Feel free to mix and match with whatever veggies you have on hand!
1/2 C whole slivered almonds
1 C Orzo pasta
2.5 C water or vegetable broth
2 TBSP Extra-Virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
4.5 tsp ground coriander
4 tsp ground cumin
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 C dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 C frozen peas
1.5 C packed baby spinach and/or arugula, julienned
1 handful green beans, trimmed to 1-inch lengths and lightly steamed
1 red bell pepper, slivered and lightly steamed with green beans
*various additions: fresh basil, thyme, cilantro – whatever you like
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until light brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add orzo, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 C water (or broth) and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes, until all moisture is absorbed and orzo is tender. Remove from heat; set aside.
3. In a medium skillet, heat 1 TBSP oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook stirring occasionally until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in spices, cranberries (or cherries), peas, and the remaining 1/2 C water (or broth). Reduce heat to a simmer; continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in toasted almond; remove from heat.
4. Add onion mixture to orzo. Season with salt and pepper. Add julienned greens, green beans, any fresh herbs you choose to use, and drizzle with remaining 1 TBSP oil. Toss well to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm or at room temperature.
Other fun additions could include steamed broccoli. I served mine on the side, but it would be yummy all mixed in. You could also use the same veg and spices and toss with brown rice or quinoa..or go nuts and toss with that 2008 Veggie of the Year..potatoes!