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Whole Wheat Orzo & Lentil Salad with Orange Dressing

Posted May 03 2010 1:00pm


Sunday in East Texas was clear and beautiful following a night of showers. Thank heavens. The humidity from the day before had me grumpy and lethargic; my downward dogs were droopy dogs in yoga class.

The shift in weather--and Nick sleeping past 7 am, hurrah!--was merely the start of a great day, the highlight being a birthday party at Eralda's house to celebrate the 4th birthday of her son (and Nick's best buddy) Jack. In addition to bubbles, birthday cake, and rides in a wagon pulled by a bladeless riding lawn mower (I only partook of the former two), I witnessed a first: my husband doing an airbound somersault on Jack's new trampoline. I was (and remain) speechless and smitten.

I was blissfully oblivious of dinner preparations until we returned home, pooped and famished. Kevin unearthed some chicken sausages from the depths of the deep freeze, and I set to work on an impromptu salad, cobbled together from bits and pieces from the pantry and refrigerator.

I have an over-abundance of lentils of all shapes at present (I go crazy in the bulk food section on visits to Whole Foods in Houston), so into a pot they landed.

In a second pot, whole wheat orzo. This is one of my amazon finds. Sometime last year I went looking for whole wheat orzo, mostly to see if it existed. Lo and behold, it is, and is available on amazon ( Rice Select Whole Wheat Orzo ). It's fabulous: nutty and flavorful, so much so that, when I first made it as a side dish, Kevin asked what I had done to the orzo, it was so good (my only additions had been salt and a drizzle of olive oil).

I finished the salad by combining the warm lentils and orzo with a quick citrus dressing, jarred roasted peppers, onion, and a bit of crumbled feta. It was wonderful warm, but equally good today as a cold lunch. Enjoy!



Whole Wheat Orzo & Lentil Salad with Orange Dressing

Regular orzo, or any small-shape pasta, would work equally well here.

1 cup whole wheat orzo (or regular), uncooked
1 cup lentils (any variety), uncooked
1 tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup packed fresh flat leaf parsely leaves, chopped
Optional: 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

Cook the orzo and lentils in two separate saucepans according to the directions (orzo should be al dente, lentils should be tender, but not falling apart). Drain both the orzo and lentils.

Whisk the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard,cumin, salt, and peper in a large bowl; add roasted peppers, onion, parsley, and the warm orzo and warm lentils and remaining ingredients, tossing gently to coat. Season with additional salt & pepper to taste. The salad is delciious warm, room temperature, or chilled. Makes 8 servings.
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