Dilly Chickpea Orzo Salad with Lemon

May 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Until recently, I never imagined using basil outside of pesto, sage without goat cheese, oregano without tomatoes or dill outside of matzo ball soup.  But now that I grow a bunch of herbs in my backyard, I’ve been sticking them in everything!   (Most recently I’ve been stuffing handfuls of various aromatic flecks into shredded zucchini pancakes, all bound together with an egg.)

Last month, nearly every meal I made came speckled (at times, reeking) with sage.  Last week, I turned the corner: now I’m tackling dill.  A good matzo ball broth demands handfuls of these grass-like flecks; the whole body of the soup improves ten-fold once it’s stirred in — fresh or dried.  But I’m discovering zillions of other possibilities for this sweet-smelling perennial.  This recipe has been the most notable success to date.

The weekend my mom returned to the southwest after a 3-week Jersey stint, I happened to stumble across an enticing blog post from eat me, delicious.  The night before my mom skidded into our dinky airport, we chatted on the phone.  She was feeling under the weather with a hurt back and was craving the spring vegetable harvest that had just kicked into high gear.  I wanted something tasty to be ready when she set down her bags, so I whipped up her favorite tomato soup and thawed the herbed quinoa corn bread from the freezer.  But I wanted to make something lighter, too – something healthy and comforting.  Here’s what I came up with.  It makes a fair amount (approximately 6 modest servings), although my mom and I slammed through the first batch in two days.  It’s hearty from the beans and pasta, as well as energizing and savory from the lemon squirts and bites of finely-chopped onion and dill.  Already one of our favorite salads of summer.

1 cup orzo, uncooked
1/2 cup scallion or early onion, sliced
3 cups garbanzo beans, cooked the day before (or use canned, rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
sea salt, pepper (to taste)
juice of 1 large lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced (approximately 1 teaspoon)


1.  In a medium-sized pot, heat water + a teaspoon of sea salt on the stove until boiling.  Add orzo and cook until al dente.

2.  Meanwhile, chop scallion and dill and toss with garbanzo beans.  Set aside.  Prepare dressing: combine juice of lemon, olive oil and garlic.  Whisk and set aside.

3.  Once orzo is cooked, drain and place back inside the warm pot.  Toss with dressing and let it soak up some of the flavors for one to two minutes.  It may look a bit soupy, but that’s okay — it will be dressing for the entire salad.  Pour orzo on top of garbanzo bean mixture.  Immediately add crumbled feta and toss, allowing it to melt against the warm pasta.  Serve warm.

Diet Notes: Nut-free


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