Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad
Consider today’s recipe a public service announcement for roasting your vegetables. Seriously, crank up your ovens! This orzo salad is all about the roasted and caramelized vegetables: fennel, carrot, and my personal favorite, broccoli. Once you roast broccoli, you will never go back.
I know, I know. This salad doesn’t sound all that exciting, but I promise it is! Connor got extremely protective of the leftovers, which is always a good sign. Whenever people are fighting over the last of anything in the kitchen, you know you have found a winner.
In fact, I hesitated to even call it a pasta salad, because I find that description as boring as can be–if I’m being perfectly honest–and this dish is far from that. There is so much more to it than meets the eye!
Today’s recipe is a riff off of one of my favorite side dishes EVER (no literally, I could eat this stuff every day of my life): roasted broccoli florets and garlic tossed with lemon juice, sliced almonds, and aged pecorino cheese.
This dish incorporates all of the same things (except I substituted sliced almonds with slivered almonds to add even more texture), but adds whole what orzo pasta to the mix. And, as I’ve mentioned far too many times on this blog, pasta can do no wrong in my book.
If you’re looking for a good pasta recommendation, I recommend Delallo’s whole wheat orzo. It holds its shape extremely well, and is my favorite go-to whole wheat pasta brand.
To bulk it up, I decided to add two of my favorite winter vegetables, carrots and fennel. You could easily substitute sweet potato and butternut squash, cauliflower, or practically any other vegetable you can think of!
Seriously though, look at those crispy garlic chips!!! Feel free to hoard those all to yourself.
Ok, but back to the salad. The greatest part about this dish is that it is very versatile, and you’re welcome to change up the vegetables depending on what you have on hand!
The only ingredients that are absolutely not negotiable are the lemon juice, almonds, and pecorino cheese. The saltiness of the pecorino paired with the tart and acidic lemon juice, and crunchy toasted almonds is ridiculously good.
The even better part of this dish is that it is easy to make, delicious served at room temperature, or cold straight from the fridge. This means that it makes great leftovers (in fact, it seems to taste even better with time!) and the perfect packed lunch for work–and maybe even a picnic during the elusive spring season?
Make a big batch of this over the weekend, and you’ll have meals for days!
Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad
- 1 large bunch of broccoli, stalk removed, and cut into medium florets (roughly 1 lb florets)
- 4 medium cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 small heads of fennel, core removed (fronds reserved), and cut into chunks
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 5 ounces whole wheat orzo pasta
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup toasted slivered (or sliced) almonds
- 2 ounces finely grated aged pecorino cheese
- fennel fronds, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets and sliced garlic with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- On a small baking sheet, toss the fennel and carrot chunks with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the broccoli at 425 degrees (F), tossing them every every 10 minutes or so, for 15 to 20 minutes or until caramelized; roast the fennel and carrot (at the same time), tossing every 10 minutes or so, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly caramelized and fork tender. Allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo pasta until al dente, stirring occasionally, and drain. Rinse the pasta immediately with cold water until cool, and then transfer to a large bowl. Add the roasted (and cooled) vegetables, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and slivered almonds, and toss well. Add the cheese and gently toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled, and garnish with fresh fennel fronds.
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