At the beginning of January, I was all – “One carb per day,” and now I’m all – “One carb per meal.” It just feels good, okay?!
Enter: Orzo. A little rice-shaped pasta that absorbs flavours and makes a perfect side dish or salad.
Cooking orzo is easy – Just add some olive oil to a saucepan and toast for a minute or two to help bring out it’s rich flavour. Add some finely minced garlic, salt and bring it to a boil in some water. Reduce and let it sim-simma for about 8 minutes until perfectly al dente. I dare you not to eat it straight out of the pan. Double doggy dare you.
Being a pasta, orzo originated in Italy, but I thought I’d give this dish a Middle Eastern spin by adding some sweet roasted grapes. If you have never roasted grapes, I’m about to change your life. Happy birthday.
All these seedless red grapes require to bump their flavour up is a bit of olive oil, some salt and pepper and a 375 degree oven. Twenty minutes and their juices begin to release, the grapes blister and caramelize and develop a really rich and sweet flavour. They would make a great snack on their own, as a topping on some crusty bread with a soft cheese, or in any salad that needs a boost.
Another Middle Eastern element brought to this dish is the salty, tangy, pan-fried halloumi that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the grapes and the creamy orzo. It’s difficult to state my favourite cheese, I mean, they are all so life-changing, but halloumi is definitely in the top three. You just put it in a pan set to medium-high heat with some olive oil and fry it up until golden brown on the outside and soft and melty on the inside. Don’t worry – it holds its shape and doesn’t make a mess of your pan! So yum.
To finish off this salad, whip up a vinaigrette with some freshly squeezed lemon, apple cider vinegar, za’atar, olive oil, salt and pepper and a whole bunch of freshly chopped parsley.
Drizzle it over the orzo, grapes and cheese and go to town. Honestly, I could demolish this salad with or without the dressing, it’s just that great.
Super simple, super delicious. A perfect salad to pair with a grilled white fish or some buttery shrimp skewers. Also amazing on it’s own.
Orzo, Halloumi and Roasted Grape Salad
Serving size: 3-4 (as a side)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1.5 cups washed seedless grapes
- olive oil
- 1 cup orzo
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups water
- 200 g halloumi cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- Fresh parsley (for garnish)
For the dressing:
- 1.5 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp za’atar spice
- 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Toss the grapes with one tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and three to four grinds of fresh black pepper. Roast in the oven for twenty minutes, tossing halfway through. Grapes will blister and release their juices.
- While the grapes are roasting, add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the halloumi slices to the pan and fry for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain any extra oil.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the orzo to the same pan you were using for the halloumi. Toast for about two minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the garlic and continue to mix until fragrant, about thirty seconds. Pour in the water and a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil and then lower heat, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the orzo is cooked but still has a bite to it. Drain any excess water and rinse orzo with cold water over a fine mesh sieve.
- For the dressing: Combine all ingredients and shake together in a mason jar or use a whisk to combine.
- Assembly: Scoop the orzo onto a serving platter. Add the roasted grapes and the halloumi and drizzle the dressing over top. Start with a small amount and add more according to your taste. Garnish with more fresh parsley and a sprinkling of za’atar. Great served warm or cold!