Orzo, Kale, and Spinach Salad

Orzo Salad 1

This is a great summer salad that goes well with any backyard barbeque or potluck. It’s perfect to make ahead because the kale and spinach are hearty greens that hold up well with dressing. In fact, I think it tastes even better the next day.  I made it to go with my Mediterranean grilled meatballs…that recipe is on the way soon! It would also make a great weeknight dinner with a little grilled chicken on top.

There are a few things that make this dish stand out. The bold flavors of the sun dried tomatoes, olives, and feta really make this salad. I like to buy olives from my grocery store’s olive bar so I can get a couple of different types. It’s nice to be able to buy exactly as much as you need, too.  A really good feta also makes a difference.

I love Pastures of Eden which is sold at my local Trader Joe’s. It’s an imported sheep’s milk feta and it is mellow and delicious. Even my husband likes it and he is not a big fan of feta cheese.

This recipe really feeds a crowd. We served it to company and had leftovers for lunch…yum! You can cut it in half or just use less pasta if you don’t need as much. It keeps really well for a few days in the fridge. I promise you, if you serve this salad at your next summer gathering…your family and friends will think you are a culinary genius!

Orzo Salad 2

Orzo, Kale, and Spinach Salad

Serves 8 – 10

Orzo, Kale, and Spinach Salad Printable Recipe Link

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 lb of orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one bunch of dinosaur kale (also called Lacinato or Tuscan kale), ribs removed and chopped
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • one red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup of assorted olives of your choice (I used a combo of green and kalamata), sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (I like the kind in olive oil)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
  • 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pine nuts

Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil

Directions:

Make the lemon vinaigrette first by combining all of the ingredients and mixing well. Slowly whisking in the olive oil at the end makes for a nicely emulsified dressing that won’t separate. But…you can always throw everything in a small mason jar and shake it really well! Just remember to shake it again before dressing your salad.

Cook the orzo in a large pot of salted boiling water until it is just al dente. I like to cook it just a minute less than it needs so that it still has a little bite once it has absorbed the dressing. Drain the orzo, add it to a large salad bowl, and toss it with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil so that it does not stick together. Let it cool down to room temp. Add the rest of the ingredients and the dressing and mix well. I like to save a little cheese and some pine nuts to sprinkle over the top before I serve it.

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Spinach and Broccoli Lasagna

I LOVE lasagna. I don’t necessarily love making it…but this one was definitely worth the effort. I did a veggie lasagna with a ton of spinach, broccoli, and artichoke hearts. I was a hit with my boys. I guess when you smother your spinach and broccoli in a creamy ricotta cheese that has been blended with basil, parsley, pine nuts and garlic…it tastes pretty darn good. I used regular lasagna noodles (the kind you have to boil) because that’s what I had. In my opinion, they are much tastier then the no-boil kind because they are thicker and have a better “bite” to them. It’s an extra step, so if you want to save time you can go the no-boil route. I also used a jarred sauce…too many other steps going on to make my own. I used the “Rao’s” brand sauce that I like. It’s several steps above something like Prego or Ragu.

Spinach that I chopped in the food processor

Chopped Broccoli

Ricotta Cheese blended with basil, parsley and pine nuts

Spinach and Broccoli Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1  32 ounce jar of marinara sauce or 4 cups of home-made sauce
  • 12 ounces of washed baby spinach (about 6 cups)
  • 1  12 ounce bag of broccoli florets
  • 3 cups of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  •  2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • a few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375

Boil your lasagna noodles in a large pot of well salted water. My box said 12 minutes to “al dente” and I cooked them for about 7 minutes. You want them way under cooked because they will finish in the oven. While you cook your noodles, roughly chop the broccoli and set aside. In a food processor, pulse the spinach (you will need to do this in batches) until it is all chopped. You don’t want it fine like pesto, just a rough chop. Remove from the food processor and set aside.  Add your basil, parsley, toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup of parmesan and garlic to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the ricotta, the eggs, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper and pulse until it is all combined.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion for about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and red pepper flakes (to taste) and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the spinach (in batches if necessary) and saute for another minute until it has wilted. You don’t really want to cook the veggies all the way, they will cook in the oven. Turn off the heat, add the artichoke hearts, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper and mix well.

sauteed onion, broccoli, spinach and artichoke hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you are ready to assemble:

  1. Butter a large, deep baking dish to keep the lasagna from sticking
  2. Add one cup of the sauce to the bottom of the dish
  3. Add your first layer of noodles
  4. Add 1/2 of your veggie mixture on top of the noodles
  5. Drizzle one cup of sauce over the veggies (it will not cover them completely)
  6. Add 1/2 of your ricotta mixture in spoonfuls on top of the veggies/sauce
  7. Sprinkle on one cup of mozzarella cheese on top of the ricotta
  8. Add your next layer of noodles on top of the cheese
  9. Layer on the remaining veggies
  10. Drizzle another cup of sauce on the veggies
  11. Add the remaining ricotta in spoonfuls
  12. Sprinkle another cup of mozarella
  13. Put your last layer of noodles on top of the cheese and gently pat down to compress
  14. Top with the last cup of sauce and spread evenly over the noodles
  15. Sprinkle on the rest of the mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan on top

Cover in foil and bake in pre-heated oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until top is lightly browned and bubbly. You can put under the broiler for a minute of you want to brown top a bit. Let sit for a good 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Tips:

  • After I boil and drain my noodles, I lay them out on foil that I have sprayed with non-stick spray so they won’t stick.
  • When you cover your lasagna with foil to bake, spray the side that will be touching the top of the lasagna with non-stick spray so the cheese doesn’t stick to the foil.