• 2 tablespoons Colavita roasted garlic olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red crushed pepper
  • 1 cup dried orzo pasta
  • 3/4 cup cooked chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 12/ cup Spanish olives
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium chicken base
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Freshly grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish

Trying to lose weight before your son’s November wedding is a giant feat especially when developing recipes like this orzo salad which just became one of my most favorite side dishes. It has been very difficult to only eat only a bite or two of this sensational side before dinner.

I was inspired to create this side while my hubby and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at a local bistro in town. I ordered my usual veggie sampler plate which included yummy grape leaves, falafel and baba gannoush with a nice warm pita on the side. A nice warm pita on the side is essential to a good Middle Eastern meal!

One of the side dishes Mike ordered was an orzo salad. We had never tried this side dish at the restaurant before. You just know I had to survey all of the ingredients. We thought this side lacked a bit of flavor and so I happily went into my kitchen to get started. This would be the perfect recipe for this week’s sensational sides series! Orzo is a pasta which resemble grains of rice.

With good quality ingredients and a few easy tricks up my sleeve, I maximized the flavors in this orzo salad:


  • I used the same pan to saute my veggies and to cook my orzo in.
  • I sauteed my veggies in a roasted garlic olive oil by Colavita  (I LOVE this olive oil). i save money by buying it BJ’s Wholesale Club.
  • I toasted my orzo just a bit in the roasted garlic olive oil to give it a slight nutty flavor.
  • I cooked my orzo in water flavored with a bit of good quality chicken base (already made low sodium organic chicken stock can be expensive)
  • A bit of fresh lemon zest brightened the dish.
  • Spanish olives and chick peas added flavor and texture.
  • A little grating of a good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese was the perfect finish.


In a large saucepan, heat up a tablespoon of roasted garlic olive oil. Add your onions, red bell pepper and the dried red pepper flakes. Cook for only two minutes. I like a little bite to my sauteed veggies. Transfer to the bowl your orzo salad will be served in.

Add another tablespoon of the roasted garlic olive oil. It smells so good! Brown the orzo just a bit, stirring constantly.

Add 4 cups of water, your chicken base and turmeric. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed into the orzo. Wanting to keep your salad creamy, remove it from the heat while it is still a bit moist. The orzo will continue to soak up the broth after it is cooked.

Place your orzo in your bowl, add your Spanish olives, chick peas, fresh lemon zest and freshly grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese.

Stir and enjoy!

From our hearts to yours,

Elise and family

Another of my other favorite sides is this farro with cherry tomatoes and a lemon basil pesto!

This post is part of the FN Dish Sensational Sides series. Be sure to check out the other delicious sides shared by my friends at the Food Network and other bloggers who love food and family as much as I do!


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The Sensitive Epicure: Stir-Fried Quinoa With Chinese Vegetables
Virtually Homemade: Spring Couscous Salad With a Citrus Vinaigrette
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