A Perfect Pasta Salad: Basil-Feta-Orzo-Spinach Summer Salad

This is a family recipe, so much so that its origins are lost in the mists of time. I think I can claim having discovered it first, but I wouldn’t want to wager (much) on that. Regardless, it’s now for me what summer tastes like.

This salad is a terrific setting for basil from the back garden, because it’s almost like a deconstructed pesto. It’s wonderful with chicken, and is also a great-tasting, unfussy dish for a party or barbeque.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. This is as easy as it gets
  2. It’s really, truly, even oddly delicious
  3. It’s even better cold

Ingredients:

2 cups (organic) spinach, ripped into pieces and tough stems removed

1 generous handful (organic) fresh basil, torn to smallish pieces by hand

1 good-sized block of decent (organic) feta cheese, cubed

3 Tbls pignoli (pine) nuts (my sister toasts them; I prefer not to)

1/2 box (organic) orzo pasta

Generous amount decent (organic) olive oil

Fresh-ground black pepper

Optional variations: halved (organic) cherry tomatoes, squeeze of fresh (organic) lemon juice

Directions:

Put the pasta water on with a good dash of olive oil and salt and set to a boil.

Prep the first four ingredients in a bowl large enough to fit both them and the cooked pasta. Cook the pasta as directed and drain. While still hot, add to the bowl.

After several minutes of letting the ingredients warm up and the spinach and basil begin to wilt, toss the pasta with the ingredients and add olive oil and fresh pepper to taste. Enjoy warm or cold.