Meatless Monday – Veggie Kabobs With Chili Cumin Oil

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Summertime is all about the grill but make sure you make room for veggies. Here is a fun recipe that incorporates wheels of corn, potatoes, tofu and fresh summer veggies to create a meal on a stick. Its a perfect way to personalize and cater to individual tastes. The marinade is really tasty too. Happy Summer!

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Grilling is Fun!  That said, can we think outside the veggie burger?  If you are tired of ‘burgers’ and ‘dogs’ being the stars of the grill, rest assured that there are some tasty options available.  Veggie Kabobs are a colorful and tasty alternative that can be adapted to any tastes. I mean, who can resist corn wheels?  You can even set up a ‘Veggie Bar’ and let your guests design their own.  I opted to use sweet corn, summer squash and tomatoes which are still in season, and oh-so-good right now.  I also added potatoes and tofu to help add fullness to the meal and a bit of protein.   Other fun items to round out your skewers would be chunks of crusty sourdough bread, mushrooms, onions and peppers, or even fruit like peaches and mangos.  Don’t be shy.

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Each of these vegetables brings something different to the table in…

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Wheatless Wednesday – Roasted Beet and Tomato Salad

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If tomatoes are the star in summer, beets are a bold and intense showgirl. Together they are a showstopper! Fresh and easy, pretty enough for a party, this Roasted Beet and Tomato Salad is a Summer Showcase! Sun-ripened tomatoes in reds and yellows paired with dark-ruby roasted beets, resting on a bed of mixed greens and topped with crumbled feta and fresh herbs is a pure delight. Click through for this recipe and several other delicious recipes starring beets.

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If tomatoes are the star in summer, beets are a bold and intense showgirl.  Together they are a showstopper!   Fresh and easy, pretty enough for a party, this Roasted Beet and Tomato Salad is a Summer Showcase!  Sun-ripened tomatoes in reds and yellows paired with dark-ruby roasted beets, resting on a bed of mixed greens and topped with crumbled feta and fresh herbs is a pure delight.  I love the simplicity of this five ingredient salad drizzled with a simple vinaigrette.  Each flavor is strong enough to stand on it’s own, and tossed together they make a colorful and flavorful salad, good enough for company but tasty enough for family.

beets.jpg (1280×853) Photo Credit: Dr Oz

Roasted beets are not to be compared to the tasteless canned variety.  Roasting them intensifies their flavor as none of the juice is lost in boiling water. Beets are very low in calories, contain no cholesterol…

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Meatless Monday – Rustic Tomato Tart

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I can’t say enough about these roasted tomatoes – drizzled with balsamic and honey and slow roasted until they reach caramelized perfection.  Their cooking juice alone is worth the price of admission, delicious as a dipping  sauce for a crusty baguette.  But that’s not all!   I layered the lovely roasted tomatoes over a bed of fresh mozzarella and then folded it all in a buttery crust to form a rustic tart. You would never know that the crust is actually good for you because it’s so yummmy, but it’s made with 100% White Whole Wheat Flour.  No that wasn’t a typo.  I used a whole grain flour made from white whole wheat, which is a different kind of wheat whose germ has a lighter color and milder in flavor than the more traditional ‘red’ wheat.  It has the same nutritional value as whole wheat but is not as heavy, making it a better choice for baking. I believe in making food healthy but not at the expense of taste.  Win, Win!

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These roasted tomatoes are really sweet and flavorful, great layered in sandwiches or mixed in with other vegetables. I know I will be making these over and over again!  I know I already said this, but it bears repeating.  The sauce is ‘to die for’ so carefully pour every last drop into a small bowl and use it as a dipping sauce.

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Tomatoes are America’s favorite vegetable (even though it’s technically a fruit) and they are so wonderful when they are in season like right now, fresh from the vine.  You can just taste the goodness! If you are worried that cooking tomatoes, destroys the nutrients, don’t. Tomatoes are one of the veggies that actually benefits from being cooked. Most people know that tomatoes are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, like lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect our immune systems.  The best way to get lycopene, which is in the skin and gives tomatoes their red color, is through cooked or processed tomatoes.  Cooking them with a little healthy oil helps carry the lycopene into the bloodstream. ( Best Health Magazine)  So roast away!  You won’t regret it…

TIPS:  This recipe would be easy to make vegan.  Just omit the cheeses which are not necessary anyway, as the star of this dish is really the roasted tomatoes. To veganize the crust, substitute a vegan butter or oil and brush the crust with non-dairy milk before cooking.  Then I would suggest sprinkling the tomatoes and especially the crust with a coarse salt and more herbs before baking.

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I spotted this recipe in the Farm Fresh – Summer, 2015 magazine, although I added a layer of fresh mozzarella beneath the tomatoes and used white whole wheat flour for the crust for a more nutritious tart.

RUSTIC ROASTED TOMATO TART

7-8 ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
3 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)-divided
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded(optional)

CRUST (or your favorite pre-made crust)

1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)plus more for dusting the surface
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
2 Tbsn + 1 tsp ice water
1 egg (for glazing the crust)

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  • If you are making dough for a crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.  Cut butter into slices and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about 20 times or until the butter particles are small.  With the motor running, add the ice water and process until the dough is beginning to come together.  It will be loose but will come together if you pinch it.  Turn the loose dough out onto a mixing bowl and knead it briefly  Shape it into a flat disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.  (Or to save time later, you can roll it into a 12 inch round, then wrap it in plastic and store in the refrigerator)

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 425.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush with with olive oil.  Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl.

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  • Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and carefully remove seeds.

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  • Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.

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  • Pour the balsamic mixture into each tomato half, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with 2 tsp thyme.

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  • Roast the tomatoes until they are brown on the edges and collapsed, about an hour.  Let them cool.  Save any pan juices to serve with crusty sourdough bread!

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  • While the tomatoes are cooling, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  Heat oven to 400.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch round, then transfer to parchment paper. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect.  I think it makes a more interesting tart.

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  • Arrange mozzarella slices in the center of the round, leaving a 2 inch border of dough.

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  • Arrange the roasted tomato halves over the mozzarella, starting in the center and slightly overlapping, still leaving a 2 inch border.

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  • Fold the edge of the dough up and over the tomatoes, pleating as you go.

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  • Brush the dough (including under the folds) with beaten egg.  Sprinkle the tart with parmesan and remaining thyme. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes.

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  • Let cool slightly and transfer to a cutting board or serving platter.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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7-8 ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
3 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)-divided
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded(optional)

CRUST (or your favorite pre-made crust)

1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)plus more for dusting the surface
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
2 Tbsn + 1 tsp ice water
1 egg (for glazing the crust)

  • If you are making dough for a crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.  Cut butter into slices and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about 20 times or until the butter particles are small.  With the motor running, add the ice water and process until the dough is beginning to come together.  It will be loose but will come together if you pinch it.  Turn the loose dough out onto a mixing bowl and knead it briefly  Shape it into a flat disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush with with olive oil.  Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl.
  • Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and carefully remove seeds.
  • Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.
  • Pour the balsamic mixture into each tomato half, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with 2 tsp thyme.  Roast the tomatoes until they are brown on the edges and collapsed, about an hour.  Let them cool.  Save any pan juices to serve with crusty sourdough bread!
  • While the tomatoes are cooling, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  Heat oven to 400.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch round, then transfer to parchment paper. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect.  I think it makes a more interesting tart.
  • Arrange mozzarella slices in the center of the round, leaving a 2 inch border of dough.
  • Arrange the roasted tomato halves over the mozzarella, starting in the center and slightly overlapping, still leaving a 2 inch border.
  • Fold the edge of the dough up and over the tomatoes, pleating as you go.
  • Brush the dough (including under the folds) with beaten egg.  Sprinkle the tart with parmesan and remaining thyme. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly and transfer to a cutting board or serving platter.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Shaved Fennel Salad with Burrata

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Salad is perfect for warm summer days. I particularly like this one featuring shaved fennel marinated in lemon and olive oil and paired with creamy burrata over a bed of baby arugula and topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh mint. I love the juxtaposition of the slightly crunchy, lemony fennel with the creaminess of the burrata which is one of my favorite cheeses. Burrata is similar to fresh mozzarella but has a soft, oozy and delicious center. If you are avoiding dairy, use Miyoko’s vegan mozz, VioLife feta. or a dollop of Kite Hill ricotta. The fennel salad is strong enough though to stand on it’s own without adding cheese.

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The longer and warmer days of Spring bring forth a whole new crop of fresh vegetables. One of my favorites is fennel with it’s distinctive licorice-like flavor.  Fennel is wonderful roasted and caramelized but it is also delightful served raw in salads.  I particularly liked this salad featuring shaved fennel marinated in lemon and olive oil and paired with creamy burrata over a bed of baby arugula and topped with toasted pine  nuts and fresh mint.  I love the juxtaposition of the  slightly crunchy, lemony fennel with the creaminess of the burrata which is one of my favorite cheeses. Burrata is similar to fresh mozzarella but has a soft, oozy and delicious center.  Of course, if you are avoiding dairy, the fennel salad is strong enough to stand on it’s own without adding burrata.  Since I made this as a main course, I also added avocado to add healthy fats…

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Caramelized Onion Tart with Brie and Cambozola

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This tart has only six ingredients but together they create quite a taste sensation. Imagine sweet and savory caramelized onions with creamy cheeses baked on puff pastry until golden brown and melty.I love the brie and cambazola combo but when I make this in a few days when I’m back in town, I’m going to try some of the fabulous vegan cheeses Right now I’m loving cheeses from Miyoko’s, Vio Life and Kite Hill ricotta but there are so many more… This tart takes almost an hour to prepare because it takes about a half hour to caramelize the onions, which is worth it. Otherwise, the preparation is easy. Just unroll the puff pastry, spread the onions evenly over the top and dot with cheeses and bake until golden brown and melty. This is a perfect appetizer for your Fourth of July party…

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Welcome to my new favorite appetizer, which “Hint” would be great for Fourth of July.  This tart has only six ingredients but together they create quite a taste sensation. Imagine  sweet and savory caramelized onions with creamy melted brie and sharp cambozola baked on puff pastry until golden brown.  This tart takes almost an hour to prepare because it takes about a half hour to caramelize the onions, which is worth it.  Otherwise, the preparation is easy.  Just unroll the puff pastry, spread the onions evenly over the top and dot with cheeses and bake until golden brown and melty.  If you are sharing, you won’t have any leftovers.

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You are probably familiar with brie which is a rich and creamy cheese that adds a richness especially when melted. We all know that Brie is calorie and fat laden,  but did you know that it is also a good source of protein? A serving of brie can provide…

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Meatless Monday – Summer VegetableTart

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I’m travelling but thought it timely to share my most favorite summer recipe. This vegetable tart with eggplant, zucchini and ripe tomato interspersed with fresh mozzarella, garlic and herbs is always the answer. Its definitely my favorite go to. Easy to make vegan by using vegan mozz. Enjoy!

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Are you a flexitarian?  I have heard the terms omnivore, herbivore, vegetarian, vegan and pescetarian.  What on earth is a flexitarian?  Well apparently it wasn’t even a word until 2012, when it was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Flexitarian = flexible + vegetarian:  apersonwhosedietismostlyvegetarianbutsometimesincludesmeat,fish,orpoultry.  My mom recently sent me an article from Mother Earth News,  Becoming a Flexitarian. which outlines the basic flexitarian approach – eat less meat and eating grass-fed when you do.  There are a lot of great reasons to eliminate or reduce meat in our diets, including health, the environment and humankindness.  Perhaps a Flexitarian approach is more doable for people than going vegetarian or vegan and can actually help promote local farming as a profitable business by only buying grass fed, humanely raised meat from responsible growers and not from…

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Meatless Monday – Tofu ‘Steaks’ with Chimichurri Sauce

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When I made this the first time, I declared it a place where meat lovers and vegans can co-exist in happiness.  I just made it again and I still agree. Here is a  ‘steak’ a meat lover will find tasty and satisfying while a vegetarian will be in raptures…  It takes less than 30 minutes and will not disapoint.    Last time, I served the tofu steaks with brown rice and broccoli with a healthy dose of chimichurri over everything which was hearty and satisfying.  This time, I served with a simple salad of lettuces and edible flowers that I had just picked from my garden.  It’s a hot day so it was perfect.

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Each tofu steak is a hefty seven ounces although my husband has a hearty appetite and usually eats his and goes back for seconds, so I need to use two blocks of tofu if I’m serving a large eater.  I also like to make sure there are leftovers for lunch.  Its really good cold too. The tofu is first brushed with a spicy and savory marinade and then pan seared and topped with a fresh and zesty chimichurri sauce, a South and Latin American condiment that is loaded with chili peppers, fresh herbs and garlic.  Chimichurri is good on almost anything and it can be made spicy or mild depending on your taste, which is why its so popular.  Originating in Argentina, it is commonly used to top grilled steak, which is one reason it’s so good on this dish.

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Even though the tofu should be allowed to drain for about 10 minutes, this recipe still takes less than 30 minutes.  Just slice the tofu and let it drain.  While it’s draining, prepare the chimichurri sauce and the marinade.  Using a food processor for the shimichurri sauce saves time and results in a smoother sauce.  Brush the tofu with the marinade and let sit while you prepare the rice or other veggies you’re serving.  The tofu only takes about 6 minutes to cook.  Easy, fast, delicious!

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Tofu steaks can be cut in two sizes, depending on preferences.  One block serves two people, unless you have someone with a large appetite, in which you can double the recipe.  I loved the thickness (about one inch) of the steaks and my husband loved the size (7 oz each).  Tofu is normally cut into thinner slices or cubes so this is a nice difference. The outside was so flavorful and the inside had a wonderful creamy consistency that you don’t get with thinner pieces.  For 7 oz steaks, stand the tofu on end and slice vertically to get two one inch thick pieces. For 3.5 oz steaks, cut each half in half. Pictured below.

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TOFU ‘STEAKS’ WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

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  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes. Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.

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  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. For a finer sauce, pulse in food processor.

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  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Marinade should be fairly thick and pasty. Set aside.

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  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.

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  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.

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  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

Tofu Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TOFU STEAKS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.  Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.
  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, pulse in the food processor.
  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Set aside.
  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.
  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.
  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Mediterranean Orzo

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Toss together cooked orzo, sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, crumbled feta and fresh herbs with a lemon dressing for a quick, fuss free meal.  I just love a dish that doesn’t need to be babied or involve a lot of prep, no oven and can be ready in 20 minutes, plus cooling time.  This delicious pasta dish is served at room temperature, so you can make it and let it sit until you are ready which makes it perfect for a summer buffet or when you have guests for dinner.  Or better yet, make this the day before and bring to room temperature to serve while you sit back and enjoy a glass of wine…

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I love this combination of flavors and colors. The orzo (which is pasta not rice) absorbs the lemon vinaigrette along with the sun dried tomatoes in oil.  The herbs and onions add a freshness while the olives and feta add a wonderful saltiness as the final touch. I have made this for a large party and tossed with roasted shrimp with great success but I prefer it just like this.  I think I like it better the next day, so feel free to make it ahead. To avoid waiting for the orzo to cool, cook it ahead of time and just toss all ingredients together for a 10 minute meal.

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In purchasing feta, I advise getting a block in water rather than already crumbled.  The quality is better and you can control the size of crumbles.  Often the pre-crumbled feta is very small and would get lost in this dish.

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MEDITERRANEAN STYLE ORZO

  • 3/4 lbs orzo pasta (or gluten free orzo)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup scallions, minced white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced or small dice
  • 8-12 oz feta cheese, large crumble or dice

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  • Cook the orzo according to package instructions, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Do not rinse.

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  • Whisk together the lemon juice,  olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the hot pasta. Mix well.

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  • Stir in the sun dried tomatoes with oil and the olives. Set aside to cool and allow the juice and flavors to absorb.  If it seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.

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  • While the pasta is cooling, thinly slice the scallions, thinly slice the red onion and cut the slices in half (or finely dice) and chop the parsley.

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  • When pasta is cool, add the scallions, parsley, onion and mix well.

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  • Add the feta and stir gently. Taste and add seasoning as needed. Set aside at room temperature to allow the flavors to blend (the longer the better).

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TIPS:  This recipe can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Just bring it back to room temperature and check seasonings before serving.

Mediterranean Orzo

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 3/4 lbs orzo pasta (or gluten free orzo)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup scallions, minced white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced or small dice
  • 8-12 oz feta cheese, large crumble or dice
  1. Cook the orzo according to package instructions, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Do not rinse.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice,  olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the hot pasta. Mix well.
  3. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes with oil and the olives. Set aside to cool and allow the juice and flavors to absorb.  If it seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.
  4. While the pasta is cooling, thinly slice the scallions, thinly slice the red onion and cut the slices in half (or finely dice) and chop the parsley.
  5. When pasta is cool, add the scallions, parsley, onion and mix well.
  6. Add the feta and stir gently. Taste and add seasoning as needed. Set aside at room temperature to allow the flavors to blend (the longer the better).

TIPS:  This recipe can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Just bring it back to room temperature and check seasonings before serving.