Giada De Laurentiis perplexes me. I have a feeling that if we went to high school together or had pledged the same sorority in college, we would have gotten along and could’ve hung out in big groups, but we never would have been bosom buddies. Get it? Bosom buddies? Because she always shows her cleavage?? I crack myself up. (I also cannot get the song “Bosom Buddies” from Mame out of my head now…) But seriously, who says to themselves, “I’m going to spend the day in the kitchen making lots of pasta and I want to wear an impractically low cut shirt”? Not me, that’s for sure.
However, as I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy her food and I’m often able to recreate her recipes without too much fuss. I do find it difficult to take her seriously when she does things like this, but so far I’ve been able to tolerate it (though this one was pushing it).
I don’t even remember the first time R and I saw Giada make her Tri-Colore Orzo but it became a fast staple in our kitchen. One of the things I love about R is his enthusiasm and fearlessness in the kitchen. If he sees a recipe that sounds good, not only will he actually make it, but he will make it now. So when this salad struck his fancy, we threw it together for a dinner party that same night. We hadn’t even been asked to bring anything and our hosts were quite surprised when we did!
We changed up the recipe a bit – originally because we didn’t have the ingredients on hand and then later because we liked it that way – but I’m sure it’d be delicious with anything you throw in. Orzo is such a fantastic salad pasta because it doesn’t look like pasta. In fact, most of our friends couldn’t even identify the grain-looking pasta whilst heaping it onto their plates.
We continue to make this salad because it’s always such a hit. The flavors are really excellent if you let it refrigerate for a few hours, which makes it an ideal potluck/picnic/make-ahead dish. The key to the flavor is: taste, season, re-taste, re-season. Repeat. The perfect balance of olive oil, salt and pepper is crucial.
Tri Colore Orzo
Recipe inspired by Tri-Colore Orzo by Giada De Laurentiis
1 lb. orzo pasta
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 C.
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced in strips
12 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 C. toasted pine nuts
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Prepare pasta according to package. When cooked al dente, drain completely. Spread orzo onto a baking sheet and add 3 Tbs. oil. Mix together and let cool completely.
When orzo is cool, put into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Garnish with basil sprigs.
May be refrigerated for hours before serving.