Orzo Salad with Roasted Rutabaga, Feta and Brazil Nuts

January 11, 2010 § 2 Comments

Today is my first full day of work since graduation and I’m positively itching with excitement!  Today marks the beginning of a new era: a life with packed lunches and no homework!  (In Regina-lingo: BLISS!)

This past weekend I spent eons (cha-ching!) at farmers’ market booths and came home with two sack-fulls of desert winter bounty: herbs, winter squash and lettuce galore!  As a result, I spent a good portion of my weekend in the kitchen, whipping up soup after salad after bread, dolling out each recipe into giant Tupperwares — prep for quick lunch-packing later this week.

This orzo salad, however, was simply too good for a fast back-of-the-fridge shove.  As I nibbled a few bites I started to chuckle (no one heard, save my dog, who bee-lined into the kitchen, tail a-thumping).   “Forget leftovers!” I thought as I promptly retrieved a small bowl out of the kitchen cabinet and ladled myself a warm, addictive meal (at only 3 o’clock in the afternoon, for Pete’s sake)!  This salad was inspired by Melissa Clark (a hoot!) from the New York Times.

1.5 cups whole wheat orzo (uncooked)*
1 large rutabaga, chopped (approximately 1-1.5 cups)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt, pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
juice from 1/2 orange (2-3 tablespoons)
1 small shallot, minced**
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1/3 cup toasted Brazil nuts, chopped
4-6 cups arugula

* For gluten-sensitive eaters, swap whole-wheat pasta with brown rice or quinoa pasta.

**I love a sharp tang of onion or shallot in my dishes.  But if you’re a bit more sensitive to this flavor, instead of adding raw shallot to this salad as I’ve suggested below, you could pan-fry a few medium-shallots in a bit of olive oil until wilted and slightly crispy and add at the end, along with the feta and rutabaga.  Alternatively, you can add minced shallot to the dressing (along with the garlic).  The vinegar and salt will take off some of the edge.


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel/cut skin from rutabaga.  Chop into bite-sized pieces.  Toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste and maple syrup.  Layer evenly on a baking sheet and bake approximately 25-35 minutes until slightly crisp around the edges and tender in the center.

2.  Meanwhile, bring salted water to a boil on the stove.  Add orzo and cook according to package instructions.

3.  Prepare citrus dressing: Combine minced garlic, 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Whisk.  When orzo has cooked, drain and toss with dressing and set aside.

4.  Chop Brazil nuts and toast in a dry skillet on medium-heat for approximately 7 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned.  Set aside.

5.  Wash arugula and layer in the bottom of a serving bowl.  Layer dressed orzo on top of arugula and toss slightly – the arugula will wilt a bit from the heat and take away a bit of the peppery edge. When rutabaga has finished baking, remove from oven. Layer orzo salad with roasted rutabaga, shallots, Brazil nuts and crumbled feta.  Serve immediately, at room temperature or cold.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free (see asterisk)


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§ 2 Responses to Orzo Salad with Roasted Rutabaga, Feta and Brazil Nuts

  • Lori says:

    OMG! This dish is out of this world. I’m not kidding. (As Grandpa Irving would say, “That’s a $15.95* meal. ” (*Adjusted for inflation.)

    Regina has been on a roll lately. The previous dish (Roasted Yams with Cilantro dressing) was another winner. I haven’t cooked in ages. What’s the point?

  • […] to be 87 tomorrow!  After a full day in the toasty kitchen where I roasted rutabagas for an orzo + citrus salad, sliced the last of the butternut squash to mix with my favorite tahini dressing and bubbled rice […]

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