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

Appetizers Panini Pizza and Pasta Sauces Uncategorized

The Perfect Ragù alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese
Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Usually for this blog, I document my attempts to make recipes I’ve never tried with ingredients that are new to me. I must confess that I have been working on perfecting a Bolognese sauce for years. I think I’ve finally got it.

This Bolognese sauce has a secret ingredient that you won’t find in most Bolognese sauces. But we’ll get to that later.

First a little background.

For a long time, I was dissatisfied with the results of my Bolognese attempts. The sauces always seemed relatively tasteless and never thick enough. My normal approach was to brown onions and ground beef, add dried herbs (like oregano and such), add a jar of prepared sauce (like Classico) and let it simmer for a long time. I thought that the longer it simmered, the tastier it would be, and that was a little bit true, but not all that much. I tried adding garlic and then adding more and more garlic, to give it flavor. It worked a little, but it seemed that the garlic flavor just disappeared. I tried adding red wine. That worked a little too. I tried adding lots of olive oil once. Again, it enhanced the flavor a bit, but it came at a cost and didn’t give the dramatic flavor I was after.

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