Chow Town

Greek orzo salad with kale makes a hearty and healthy tailgating side dish

The original Greek Orzo salad.
The original Greek Orzo salad. The Kansas City Star

If you’re looking for a healthy and generously sized side dish for tailgating or backyard barbecues, I recommend this Greek pasta salad from The Star’s 2006 archives.

I found it in food editor Jill Wendholt Silva’s “Eating for Life” cookbook, and made some minor modifications.

1. I had some spring kale on hand, so I used it. I heated a pot of water to boiling and blanched the leaves by dropping them in for about a minute. Then I removed the leaves and immediately cooled them in a bowl of ice water. Once cooled, I squeezed the leaves of water, chopped them and tossed them in.

2. I like feta cheese in my Greek salad, so I cubed about 4 ounces and added it in with the dressing.

3. I couldn’t find orzo, so I used Israeli couscous instead. I followed the directions on the box to cook them.

4. The lemon zest and juice really make this recipe, so use as much as you like.

5. I also salted and peppered.

Refrigerating overnight really does help meld the flavors. Here’s the original recipe. Happy and healthy eatings!

Greek Orzo Salad

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 cup uncooked orzo

1 red pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped cucumber

3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons sliced ripe pitted olives, drained

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. Combine orzo, red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions and olives.

Whisk to combine wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, Dijon, honey, sugar and basil; pour over orzo mixture. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Toss again just before serving.

Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss