Appetizers Rice and other Grains Salads Sides Uncategorized Vegetarian

Summer Picnic Salads – Perfect for the 4th of July

Lemony Lentil Salad With Couscous and Arugula

As some of you know, I started blogging a bit for Mollie Stone’s Markets, my favorite grocery store. They have an amazing new line of infused olive oils that I have been experimenting with. This latest recipe makes use of the Lemon Infused Olive Oil. I made this lentil salad for a going-away party for friends of ours who are moving to Europe. Just when we’re going to have healthcare here after all. Oh well. To see the entire recipe, check out the post on the Mollie Stone’s Blog!

I equate summertime picnics with these kinds of salads: lentil salad, orzo salad, corn and bean salad and so on. They travel well, hold up during a picnic and are nutritious. They also take advantage of what’s in season. Here are just a few from the archives:

Lentil Salad Three Ways
Lentil Salad Three Ways
Heirloom Tomato Orzo Salad
Heirloom Tomato Orzo Salad
Wild Rice Salad
Wild Rice & Cranberry Salad
Wild Rice, Cranberry and Almond Salad
Fresh Corn Salad
Fresh Corn Salad
Fresh Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil
Salads Uncategorized Vegetarian

Heirloom Tomato Orzo Salad

Orzo Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Orzo Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil

Recently I decided to host a dinner party on Sunday night, hoping to stretch out the weekend a bit and squelch the Sunday night blues. It totally worked.

For inspiration, I turned to a book that has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of months: Williams-Sonoma Dinner Parties: Inspired Recipes and Party Ideas for Entertaining. I even found a menu that I wanted to cook from start to finish. I’m glad I decided to go all the way because it turned out to be the kind of menu that allows the cook/host to have fun at her own party, but it didn’t include a pot roast or a casserole. Au contraire. This menu was light, healthy, elegant AND easy. The main course was a Halibut fillet with herbed butter and that was served with this light, end-of-summer, orzo salad.

What I liked best about serving this salad with the fish is that it could be prepared ahead of time and served at room temperature, so I didn’t have to worry about making it at the last minute or reheating it at just the right time. Stay tuned for more recipes from this Sunday Night Dinner Party.

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Orzo Salad
(Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Dinner Parties cookbook)
Serves 8


1 box (1 lb) of orzo
dash of salt for boiling water
1 Tbsp olive oil to coat orzo when finished cooking (to keep from sticking)
1 1/2 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (choose a variety of colors)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Boil the orzo according to package instructions for an Al Dente texture, about 9 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and toss with olive oil. Once the pasta cools a bit, you can cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until its ready to mix in with the rest of the ingredients (up to several hours ahead of time).

2. Chop tomatoes and the basil and mix together in a large bowl.

3. In a small jar, mix the olive oil, white wine vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Close lid and shake until emulsified.

Final preparation: About 1 hour before the party, gently fold the orzo, tomato/basil and vinaigrette together and spoon into a serving bowl. Cover with a paper towel while salad reaches room temperature. Toss again before serving and garnish with fresh Basil leaves.

Orzo Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Orzo Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil

Other Orzo Salad Recipes from Around the Web:

Orzo Salad and The Influential Power of Simple Food from Week of Menus

Miss Mary’s Orzo Salad from Erin Cooks

Orzo Salad (this one’s got Feta, people) from Dlyn

Spinach and Tomato Orzo from Southern Grace Gourmet

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