This Winter Orzo Pasta Salad is balanced in its nutrition and flavor profiles. It's as delicious as it is good for you. Chock full of beans and greens it is an optimal Vegan meal or side for any dinner. I love this one as the main attraction since it is very filling yet not heavy. Some could call this a slaw but the addition of orzo makes this a pasta salad worth writing home about.
The star of this salad is the orzo pasta. Orzo is one of my favorite pasta shapes. The tiny oblong pastas have a great texture that I love. It is soft, yet firm and works so well with chilled pasta salads like this one. Orzo cooks quickly and doesn't swell unpleasantly with time as some pastas do. That's why it is great for salads and soups.
The Dino Kale and Cabbage make a great bulk to this salad. If you have never tried Dino kale, you must! The leaves are much more tender than regular kale. They are very dark green and smooth with a scaly look that resembles dinosaur skin. This kale responds so well to massage with lemon, olive oil and salt making it exquisitely tender. Both Dino Kale and Cabbage are ideal for this Winter Orzo Pasta Salad as they are both hardy and can retain their integrity after dressing for some time.
Speaking of dressings. This Winter Orzo Pasta Salad is dressed very simply but super flavorful. I use good quality extra virgin olive oil, mandarin infused vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The oil and vinegar are from my friends at Wild Groves, who make superior quality gourmet products. To purchase at a 20% discount use code Betterfood20 at checkout. I also add some fresh dill to really pop up those fresh flavors.
Most people like croutons in their salads. I prefer crispy chickpeas! For this Winter Salad, I use Crunchy Garlic Chickpeas which were a perfect match. Crispy chickpeas up the protein of any dish and also satisfy that craving for crunch. They are so easy to make and really bring the texture profile to a new level. Don't mix them in, instead use them as a topper so they don't lose their crunch over time.
For color and added texture and flavor, I added watermelon radish to this Winter Salad. Watermelon radishes are crunchy, slightly spicy and have breathtaking color. Carrots and cherry tomatoes added some sweetness to round it all out. Lastly, some buttery ripe avocado adds another layer of delectable to this Winter Orzo Salad. If you like this Orzo Salad recipe, check out this Greek Inspired Orzo Salad.
Winter Orzo Pasta Salad
- sheet pan, large mixing bowl
- 1 bunch dino kale washed and chopped
- 2 carrots ribboned or grated
- ½ head green cabbage shredded
- 1 watermellon radish chopped fine
- 10 cherry tomatoes halved
- 3 tbsp dill chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 tbsp Mandarin Orange Vinegar (You can use any citrus infused vinegar)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 black pepper to taste
- 8 oz orzo measure dry then cook according to package, drain, rinse and set aside
- 1 avocados quartered and sliced for serving
Crispy Garlic Chickpeas
- 15 oz can Chickpeas drained well
- 2 tsp Olive oil (I used Garlic Oil)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- Add kale, cabbage, carrots and radishes to a large bowl.
- Add Oil, Lemon, vinegar, Salt and Pepper and mix well with hands. Massage the seasonings into the salad gently to coat well.
- add cooked orzo, dill, cherry tomatoes and a little more pepper and mix again
- Serve topped with Crispy Chickpeas and sliced avocado
Crispy Garlic Chickpeas
- Preheat oven to 400
- Drain chickpeas well and spread on sheet pan
- Drizzle with Oil, season with salt and garlic powder
- Mix well with hands
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until crispy, turning once halfway