I was inspired to make this by the salad bar at Acme’s, our local grocery store. There was a, albeit very bare, orzo pasta salad in their salad bar. I was not sure whether it was vegan, and I thought it would be fun to make my own. I could fill it with colorful veggies, whatever I am feeling. I ended up picking out roasted peppers, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, kale, and some yellow baby tomatoes. I also added in sunflower seeds for crunch, and they fit perfectly with the similarly shaped orzo pasta. This is a vegan Mediterranean style dish. It is packed with nutrients: fiber, vitamin C, iron, calcium, vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, and more. For those concerned about protein, broccoli is a good vegetable protein source, with four grams per serving, combined with seven grams per serving in orzo pasta, five grams per serving in sunflower seeds, and the various lower end protein content of the rest of the vegetables, you will not be lacking in protein, which is true of any balanced, plant based meal. This dish is nutritionally and vegetable dense and makes a perfectly healthy and tasty side dish or main dish. It can be served hot or cold. I recommend a quick sauté in avocado oil for reheat. I hope you enjoy.
- 1 cup orzo past
- 1.5 cups broccoli
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 cups kale
- 0.5 cup baby yellow tomatoes
- 0.5 cup roasted peppers
- 1 medium bell pepper; I used red, but orange would provide additional color
- 10 basil leaves
- 0.5 cup sunflower seeds
- 0.25 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 0.5 tsp garlic powder
- 0.5 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp organic Italian seasoning
- In a medium pot, bring sea salted water to a boil, and put in orzo pasta.
- As you are waiting for water to boil and for pasta to cook, prep your veggies. Chop the broccoli, spinach, and kale. Quarter the tomatoes, and dice the roasted and regular peppers. Roll and slice the basil leaves.
- Cook orzo to al dente. Just prior to draining pasta, put broccoli in pasta water to tenderize. Let sit for thirty seconds, and drain.
- Add pasta with broccoli to a large serving bowl. Add in the spinach and kale first, and mix. Add in the rest of the vegetables and optional sunflower seeds, and mix.
- Drizzle olive oil over your salad as you continue to mix.
- Finally, add your seasonings, and mix.
- Serve immediately as a warm dish, or transfer to the fridge to keep as a cold pasta salad.