When your garden is overflowing with vegetables, this Gluten Free Summer Orzo Pasta Salad is the perfect solution. So fast and easy to make!
With the soaring temperatures we’ve been having recently (like much of the country), I am always looking for simple, delicious, and cool meals to make for The Artist and me for dinner.
The heirloom tomatoes and zucchini are flourishing now and we’ve been eating them at nearly every meal. I love combining them with pasta and a light vinaigrette for a simple refreshing summer meal. Feel free to use any vegetables that you like or have on hand.
If you are like me, you want an easy-to-make one dish meal that everyone can help themselves to if they need a between meal snack or if someone comes home late. Having this on hand in the fridge is a great solution. This can be used as either a vegetarian main course or a side dish to grilled meats hot off the BBQ.
If you don’t feel like making your own vinaigrette from scratch – but boy is it easy and much tastier – you can use any store bought dressing you and your family likes.
Use regular orzo if you don’t need to avoid gluten products, but if you are like us, we love the line of pastas from DeLallo. They hold up after cooking and the texture and flavor is good. You can bet The Artist is picky about his pasta and this is his favorite.
If you can’t find DeLallo at stores near you, obviously feel free to use your favorite brand. And you don’t have to limit yourselves to just orzo – any short pasta will work in this salad.
I use chicken stock to cook the pasta in to add protein to the finished dish. You can use vegetable stock instead or just use water. If you are using only water, you will have to add about 1/2 tsp salt to the cooking water for flavoring.
One trick to an easy-to-eat salad is to cut all the vegetables small enough to easily fit in a spoon. This makes it much easier for your guests and if you have little ones just learning to use their utensils, they will be able to scoop this up much more easily.
Special thanks to Lori Rice of Fake Food Free for sending me this beautiful bowl for photography. She is the sweetest!!
Enjoy this Gluten Free Summer Orzo Pasta Salad all year long, but it is especially wonderful as a way to cool down on these hot summer days.
Stay cool my friends!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Make a big batch of this if you have company coming to stay. They will appreciate the ability to grab a bowl of it if they are hungry between meals – and not have to bother you!
If you use chicken or vegetable stock, leave out the salt until you taste the stock and see how salty it is. I usually cut mine with about half water/half stock so it doesn’t overwhelm the flavors of the vegetables and pasta.
Any gluten-free brand of pasta will work here, be sure to follow package directions closely.
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
- Pinch granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb orzo pasta (gluten-free if needed)
- Vegetable or chicken stock, if desired (in place of all or part of the cooking water)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded, finely chopped
- 1/2 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced, optional
- 1 to 2 yellow crookneck squash, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 to 2 zucchini, ends discarded, finely chopped
- Heirloom tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
- 1 green onions, trimmed and green portion finely chopped, optional
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Make the Vinaigrette: Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until it is blended and the dressing has thickened. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. The mustard is an emulsifier and will help keep it from separating as quickly. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to a week.
- Cook the Pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions. If you want more flavor and protein in your salad, you can use chicken or vegetable stock for half the liquid called for on the package. Add salt if you are not using stock or if the liquid needs it.
- Drain in a colander, transfer to a large bowl, drizzle with a little oil to keep the pasta from sticking together, and set aside.
- Prepare the Salad: In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it is shimmering, add the celery and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until just slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, and crookneck squash to the pan and toss to coat with the oil. Cook 1 minute to just barely cook the squash.
- Pour the vegetables into the bowl with the pasta. Add the tomatoes, green onions (if using), thyme, and salt and pepper. Pour about 2 to 3 tbsp of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss until everything is coated with the dressing and the seasonings are evenly distributed.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Add more dressing if you like. Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes to give the pasta time to absorb most of the vinaigrette.
- You can serve right away or store, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring out about 20 minutes before you are ready to serve to warm up slightly.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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