I am a sucker for a pasta salad, especially during the summer.

When this Spinach and Orzo Salad was posted at Simply Recipes, I was all over it. The ingredients are simple but create a Greek-style pasta salad that is unlike any salad I have made.

The first time I made this salad I stuck to the original recipe. Olives and feta are always a good combination and I love the fresh taste of the spinach. I have not used pine nuts much but I love the mild nutty flavor and slight crunch they add to this salad.

The second time I made this recipe, I didn’t think my guests would be as appreciative of black olives as I am so I roasted two red peppers instead.  The salad, pictured here, was still great. 

I think this recipe has flexibility and a lot of room for experimentation.

8 oz. orzo pasta
1/4 c. pine nuts
6 oz. feta cheese, roughly crumbled
2 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted, and roughly chopped
4 oz. baby spinach
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch dried basil
Pinch dried tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Prepare the orzo pasta according to instructions on the box for al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool quickly.
2. Toast the pine nuts. Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir occasionally until nuts are lightly browned. Be careful: they will burn if you are not watching them closely.
3. Process half of the spinach in a food processor or blender. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil. In a large serving bowl mix the spinach puree with the cooked orzo until the pasta is well coated. Roughly chop the rest of the spinach and gently mix with orzo along with red onion, feta cheese, pine nuts, and olives.
4. Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, mustard, basil, and tarragon in a small jar (with a whisk) or bowl (by shaking). Pour over orzo spinach mixture and gently mix until well incorporated.
5. Chill for one hour before serving.