New Year’s Orzo Salad

Orzo Salad

There’s no telling what is in store for 2012 and frankly I find that exciting. I do know that my last days of 2011 and first days of the new year were spent in sunshine with loved ones and good food, and if that’s any indication for the direction this year is headed, I’ll take it. I flew down to Miami to ring in the new year with my best friend Farah, her new hubby and their gorgeous new house. When Farah started talking about menu planning, I immediately took the reins and tossed out dishes that I was itching to contribute. She wanted to make an orzo pasta salad and I took that as an opportunity to give myself a little creative challenge.

So, with the help of my mom, we collaborated and created an impromptu dish that received tons of praise from the twenty plus hungry people anxiously awaiting the ball drop. My mom had the extra clever idea to add some black eyed peas into the mix. If the good luck myth rings true, it’s going to be a good year for everyone who chowed down that orzo salad on New Year’s Eve. We started off with the basics of a Greek style orzo salad, adding onions and pine nuts and olives. With the addition of some scallions, the black eyed peas and some sundried tomatoes, the dish felt nearly complete but something was still missing. The obvious addition was feta cheese but then my mom had the other genius idea to add some goat cheese instead. We tossed it in and dressed the salad with a little oil, vinegar and lemon and it was absolutely delicious, and proof that sometimes the best food is made on a whim with the cook you learned everything from. Here’s how we made it…

1 box of orzo pasta
5-6oz goat cheese
1 red onion chopped finely
4-5 scallions chopped finely
1 cup cooked black eyed peas
1 cup sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped marinated black olives
1/2 cup finely chopped arugula
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

While the orzo is cooking in boiling water, chop and prepare all of your remaining ingredients. Strain orzo and mix in onion, scallions black eyed peas, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, olive and arugula. Dress with olive oil, lemon and vinegar (add slowly and taste as you go until dressed to your liking). Mix in crumbled goat cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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