Spinach Orzo Salad

If you or someone in your family has alpha-gal or other food allergies, you know that you just don’t get a lot of invitations for dinner. It’s not that our friends and family wouldn’t like to have us over for a meal, it’s just stressful because they don’t want to inadvertently serve something that would cause us harm. My mother-in-law makes great efforts to have us over for dinner once in awhile and I am always grateful for the rest from trying to figure out what we are going to eat. When she found this recipe in a magazine, she knew we could ALL eat it and had us over to try it. My daughter and I especially loved it and will be making it year round from now on. We like it best at room temperature, but it can be served warm or cold. It also travels well, and can be made up in advance. This is often a meal in itself for us, but I think it would be a perfect accompaniment to any fish or chicken dish.

image1  pound orzo

1/2  cup olive oil, separated

1  1/2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves (or more to taste)

1/2  pint cherry or grape tomatoes

1/2  cup pine nuts

2  tablespoons minced fresh basil

2  tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2  tablespoons minced fresh chives

2  cloves garlic, minced

2  tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is always best if you have it)

1/2  teaspoon sea salt and pepper (or more to taste)

 

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and place in a large serving bowl. In a small skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and pine nuts. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until nuts begin to turn golden but not brown. Add this mixture to the pasta. Add tomatoes, spinach, and herbs to the pasta, stirring gently to combine.

For the dressing, combine lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and whisk until smooth and well combined. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

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