Wednesday, July 4, 2012

grilled vegetable orzo salad

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this beautiful salad tagged along with the strawberry almond breakfast cake to my Pepe's fathers day celebration and was a bit of a scene stealer. grilled eggplant, red onion and rainbow peppers  are tossed with a healthy amount of fresh herbs, arugula and a double dose of lemon and olive oil then finished with a good flaky salt which intensifies the simple flavors.

if it is not love at first sight then it surely will be love at first bite 
 Eggplant is an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber and bone-building manganese. It is very good source of enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum and heart-healthy potassium. Eggplant is also a good source of bone-building vitamin K and magnesium as well as heart-healthy copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin. Eggplant also contains phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.
Paired with rainbow peppers which are an outstanding source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. These phytonutrients include flavonoids (luteolin, quercetin, hesperidin) and hydroxycinnamic acids (especially ferulic and cinnamic acids). But the hallmark phytonutrient group found in bell peppers is the carotenoid family, with more than 30 different carotenoids being provided by this vegetable. Included in bell pepper carotenoids are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Bell peppers are an excellent source of antioxidants vitamin A and C as well as nerve-supportive vitamin B6. Bell peppers are a very good source of heart-healthy fiber, vitamin E, folate, potassium, and vitamin K as well as the enzyme-supportive molybdenum. They are a good source of bone-building manganese and magnesium, energy-producing vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B5. {source}
peppers, eggplant and red onion are easily grilled outside or roasted inside. but why heat up the house if you can grill in your own backyard.
orzo - for the record is my favorite little past, i just love the little rice shaped pasta tossed with veggies and lightly dressed with a homemade vinaigrette. the grilled veggies are tossed with orzo then doused with a ton of fresh lemon juice and olive oil.
herbs are a fairly new addition to the garden. in the past i have grown basil and parsley, herbs are so easy to grow so i expanded my herb garden to include winter savory ( a perennial), tarragon, rosemary, chives, 4 varieties of basil, parsley, thyme & oregano.
the mix of fresh herbs give a overall "freshness" or "green" to the final dish. 


maldon sea salt, or any other good flaky salt is generously sprinkled throughout the salad making all the flavors really "pop" in this dish.
this most certainly has been my "go to" salad for BBQ's and backyard dinners.
quick, easy and nutritious it is the perfect recipe to have in your back pocket. when grilled, the veggies are done in 10 minutes, orzo is cooks in a flash too.


even better when made a day ahead, allowing the flavors to meld and intensify.
i found that i needed to add a touch more olive oil prior to serving/removing from the fridge when made the day before, the extra olive oil loosens up the salad. if making the day before, save the herbs and add just before serving or toting to the BBQ.


arugula, one of the easiest greens to grow in your garden is added to the mix.
even if you don't have space for a garden try growing arugula in a large pot or window box - the seeds start sprouting within days and before long you will have a healthy little arugula patch ready for harvest. arugula is so versatile - top pizza, toss in salad or a substitute for lettuce a top a veg burger.
Grilled Vegetable Orzo Salad
serves 10

you will need:
1 cup dry orzo
1 medium eggplant
2 cups tri color peppers
1/2 cup diced red onion

2 cups total of the following mixed herbs
winter savory

2 1/2 lemons
2 tsp salt plus more for finishing
1/4 cup olive oil + a drizzle for veggies

cook the orzo according to package directions, drain and set aside in a medium mixing bowl

while the orzo is cooking, slice the eggplant in rounds, place rounds on a paper towel and salt both sides. allow eggplant to drain on the paper towels, this helps remove some of the bitterness eggplant can sometimes have. meanwhile cube the peppers in large bite sized pieces (these will shrink when grilled). slice and dice the red onion. cube the salted and drained eggplant rounds

place the veggies on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and toss lightly coating all sides of the veggies, sprinkle with salt. grill (grill set to heat of 400*), frequently tossing until veggies are golden and soft. add the grilled veggies to the mixing bowl with the orzo.

add the juice of 2 lemons to the mixing bowl and 1/4 cup of olive oil & salt - mix well.
add the herbs & arugula, tearing the larger leaves into bite size pieces.

drizzle with the remaining 1/2 lemon juice & sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt just before serving.



  1. Looks yummy! I made orzo salad this week too, and definitely have grilled veggies on the mind for 4th of July.

    1. I just checked out your recipe, looks so good too!

      Aren't grilled veggies the best....well anything on the grill really is the best :)

  2. This looks so summery! I don't think I've ever tried orzo but I've been wanting to - it looks like a nice alternative to regular pasta salad! I also can't stop looking at that second picture of your veggies trying to figure out how your lemon could be bigger than all the peppers - it's either a mutant giant lemon or something to do with the camera angle haha

    1. I love orzo for the fact it is not suoer heavy like alot of pastas can be - I much prefer the higher ratio of veggies to pasta :) Haha I used mini peppers, they are much smaller than their full grown versions, I didn't even see that- good eyes!

  3. Oh my, you certainly spoiled your dad! What a lucky guy!

    Pasta salads are so great when made ahead of time- magic happens when it's allowed to rest and meld together! They're especially good when you get the roasted, earthy flavours of veggies paired with bright tasting herbs and lemon!

    By the way I am absolutely in love with your photos. Not just in this post but always! Got any tips for me ;)

    Happy 4th of July Heather :) Hope you have a wonderful day!

    1. Seriously, super magic! I love the lemon and herbs, it brightens up the whole dish!

      Awww thank you so much Gabby, I am far from perfect- my biggest tip is natural lighting and playing around with camera settings along with relfectors and filters - but really all you need is beautiful natural filtered light :)

  4. This looks fabulous! I love roasted vegetables! Great idea to toss them with orzo and turn it into a salad. YUM! :) I cannot wait to try this out!

    Hope you had a wonderful July 4th! HUGS! :) Did you enjoy the fireworks?

    1. This salad is so much fun Court! I love the burst of salty lemon, I was hooked with the first bite :)

      The fireworks literllay take place in my backyard, so much fun - they were okay this year, I'm looking forward to my Uncles Fireworks Show this weekend which beats the pants off any local fireworks display around :)

  5. I love the different components making up this salad my friend, they are all unique but work beautifully together :D
    Love it!


    1. Thank you Uru - they do all pair nicely together :)

  6. what a light and beautiful summer salad! happy 4th of july, lady <3

    1. Happy 4th too my Beautiful Friend, I hope you had a wonderful celebration with Miss Mina and Dayv! xo

  7. So colorful! It looks delicious too. :)

    1. Thanks Meliss! I love the color from the eggplant and peppers - so pretty with the fresh herbs too!

  8. Beautiful photography. Your pictures make me want to lean forward and sniff my screen.

    1. Haha certainly feel free to sniff away!

      Thank you so much for the compliment, totally made my day :)

  9. Orzo is probably my favorite pasta (that and couscous) too, and I don't eat it nearly enough. This salad looks like a perfect excuse to go pick some up! I love all the roasted veggies and fresh herbs too- totally my kind of pasta salad! :-

    1. I love Israeli Cous Cous- So YUM!There is something about little pastas that are just so awesome :)

  10. Mmm, I just love roasted veggies. And come to think of it, I love orzo too! Something about small pasta like that is so fun! I love simply this is dressed, I'll have to try that!

    1. I agree with you 100% Heidi - little pastas are so much fun!

  11. Yum! What a refreshing salad! I love that your baking sheet looks just like mine ;) I can't get all the juicy carmelization off for the life of me!

    1. I love the rustic, well loved looking sheet pan - shows the world that we are serious cooks ;) I tried when I first got the pan to keep it spotless- but lets be real here that wasn't going to ever happen so I just accepted the beautiful well worn look :)

  12. Wow, who knew so much nutrition could be packed into such a simple and beautiful dish? I love all the bright colors, too. You know something is good when it's this bright and welcoming!

    1. Awww thanks Willow <3 The lemon and herbs certainly do a good job on the "welcome to my belly" factor :)

  13. There is a typo at the bottom of your recipe, FYI - looks like everything below "Print this recipe" should be at the top of the recipe...

    1. Thank you - for some odd reason the formatting was off!


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