Thursday, August 5, 2010

Orzo, Sun-dried Tomato, and Walnut Salad with Feta

I finally picked Poor Girl Gourmet out of my to-read stack. I received a review copy a while ago and had been hearing good things about it. The book is by Amy McCoy, and her blog is also called Poor Girl Gourmet. What we have here is a food lover who had become accustomed to spending a lot on groceries each week. When the economy hit a snag, she needed to scale back her grocery budget but wasn’t willing to compromise on quality. By sticking to a list, not splurging on expensive items, and reducing the amount of meat purchased, McCoy was able to cut her food bill in half. This book includes recipes for dishes that fit her new approach to shopping and cooking, and the good news is that it’s not all boiled bulgur wheat dinners. The book is full of really good, fresh, and flavorful meals that are all under $15 and serve four. In the soups and salads chapter in addition to the salad I’m showing here, there’s a summer romaine and corn salad with chicken and lime corn cream dressing. In entrees, you’ll find kale lasagne with walnut pesto, chicken in cider gravy, and roasted chicken with spicy orange sauce. There are also vegetables and sides, bakery and desserts, and a chapter called splurges for special occasions. There’s a simplicity to the recipes in that fewer ingredients make for less expensive dishes, but that also allows you to appreciate each item that is used. For instance, I decided to make the orzo salad with sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts, and as I read the recipe, I thought about adding basil or a little garlic or maybe some fresh tomatoes too. I think adding any of those things would have muddied the nice balance of what was already there.

To make the salad, orzo was cooked and drained and then transferred to a serving bowl. Olive oil, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the dry kind not in oil, chopped toasted walnuts, crumbled feta, and chopped fresh oregano were added. I have lots of oregano in my herb garden, so that ingredient was free for me. The pasta salad was to be served on top of a bed of lettuce, but I’ve shown it in a bowl by itself in these photos. In the back of the book, there’s a chapter on wines which includes information about finding value buys in less well-known varietals. I learned about negroamaro, which is from Puglia, and I brought home a bottle of a rose version of it to enjoy with this meal. It was dark as far as roses go, not sweet, and a nice, chilled wine for summer.

Sun-dried tomatoes do their umami magic in this salad, and with the oregano, a happy blend of flavors happens. The crunchy walnuts were just right, and the feta brought some salty bite. This was a great dish, and I’m already eyeing a few more to try from the book. I liked that this book presented how to cook with fresh ingredients in an economical way that wasn’t about giving up on any of what you enjoy most in your meals. It’s about finding an affordable mix of good, basic ingredients, stretching gourmet items, and growing what you can or buying seasonal produce locally. That’s a great plan for any budget.



25 comments:

  1. What a fantastic summer salad! I adore orzo salads and your looks very tasty. The combination of ingredients is perfect. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. This salad is so refreshing and delicious:D

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  3. Lis,
    I tried this salad too, it was nice and light.
    I am trying her pasta w/ prunes and ricotta next!

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  4. What a yummy sounding salad. I love orzo with about anything but I have to say, I have a weakness for sun dried tomatoes and feta. they all seem so natural together.

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  5. We were just talking about how good sun dried tomatoes are, and you have this recipe. Perfect timing.

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  6. Wow - pretty much my favorite flavors rolled into one dish. Never heard of this lady/book - thanks for sharing!

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  7. That is such a mouthwatering orzo salad! Yummy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  8. ah, the umami magic of sun-dried tomatoes. :) as a borderline poor girl myself, i love this recipe!

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  9. I've always loved orzo. What is it about that shape that just makes me so happy? And of course I love all these ingredients. It sounds like I could learn a thing or two from this book seeing as I spend a small, and unnecessary, fortune on groceries each week.

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  10. I really enjoy orzo! This looks great!

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  11. Super salad, I want to make something like that at home, and I love the walnuts in there for a bit of texture/crunch.
    Have a great weekend.
    *kisses* HH

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  12. I love everything with sundried tomatoes!!

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  13. thanks for the inspiration, I have a big box of feta in a fridge and was wondering what to do with it other than a Greek salad.
    love the addition of sundried tomatoes here, sounds great.

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  14. Lisa... why you do this to me? Just ordered the book, could not resist it.

    The reviews in amazon.com were excellent too...

    Oh, well - life is short!

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  15. Very beautiful dish...perfect for summer:)

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  16. Orzo is one of my favorites! This dish is a must try!

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  17. Adore the orzo too...but somehow I don't cook them often. Your salad looks delish!

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  18. I love sun dried tomatoes and feta together - this look fabulous!

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  19. What's not love about this dish? Fresh, healthful, flavorsome.

    And I do not call myself a gourmet but I do work within a Poor Girl's Kitchen here...:D

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  20. Anything with feta I am in! Looks delicious!

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  21. Such a beautiful salad Lisa! Orzo is one of my favourite pastas ever too! :D

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  22. Your orzo is making my mouth water. Delicious looking salad Lisa.

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  23. Dishes like this make me feel as if I can dine so well and healthfully with a minimum of fuss! The combination of sun-dried tomatoes and feta is unbeatable. One strange (actually, annoying) recent circumstance: I am having the hardest time finding orzo now! At this time, the only place I can find it reliably is Whole Foods - not a hardship, but this pasta form used to be so much easier to find. I'm starting to hoard . . .

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  24. Beautiful salad that would go really well in the hot weather of the moment (although... it's pouring rain as we speak, so not sure if the sun will come back again!) But it would be lovely no matter what the weather!

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  25. This is my kind of salad! I love everything about it. And I would of been tempted to add some of those things too...it's hard holding back sometimes.

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