Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Orange Vinaigrette 

orzo salad.jpgThis recipe tastes like my neighbourhood. In fact, it probably wouldn’t exist if I didn’t live on the Danforth. “The Danny” is not just kinda Greek. It’s really Greek. My landlord is Greek, and his adorable parents live on the floor above me. Roula sometimes leaves me Greek cookies when she drops off my mail, and her cute-as-a-button grandson (who’s only five, but is already a terrible flirt) will sometimes drop a line in Greek when we’re chatting in the driveway, expecting that I would at least know how to say “happy new year” and similarly stock phrases (I just nod and smile…).

Just around the corner is Select Bakery that stocks at least half a dozen different types of feta. I had no idea so many different textures and qualities of feta existed! This salad works best with one of the firmer ones, like a domestic, Canadian feta, that is easier to crumble. I like this recipe because I can pick up most of these ingredients from that bakery: the olives from their mix-and-match olive bar, a jar of fire-roasted red peppers, the whole wheat orzo (one of many orzo options), and of course, the feta.

The diversity of this neighbourhood goes far beyond its large Greek population. According to a 2011 city census, 33% of Toronto-Danforth area residents have a mother tongue that is something other than English or French. Greek is at the top of this list, but it is quickly followed by Italian, and then Cantonese, Gujarati, Chinese – n.o.s., Urdu, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, and Tagalog. Suffice to say, I don’t have to look very far to find a grocery store carrying pomegranate molasses either. If you’re having trouble finding it, go ahead and try a fruit-infused balsamic reduction in its place.

 Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1/3 cup pitted and finely chopped olives (I tend to use black, but the fruitiness of green olives will beautifully)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced roasted red pepper (store bought from a jar is more than fine)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • juice from 1/2 of a large navel orange
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • finishing salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook orzo according to package directions—usually 10-15 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the freshly squeezed orange juice, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and white wine vinegar.
Once orzo is tender, drain and immediately add to a large bowl with the kale, red pepper, and half of the vinaigrette. Stir to combine, coating the orzo in the vinaigrette to ensure it doesn’t clump together.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly.
Add in the feta and olives and drizzle over the remainder of the dressing. Toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper according to preference.


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