Mediterranean Orzo Spinach Salad

Currently, I work from home, but one day, this will change - which is what I keep telling myself. I'm just waiting for my Green Card, so I can do the things I love and also get paid for it. One day, I would like to rent a studio with large bay windows, and creaky old hardwood floors. Bright white walls with rows and rows of shelves ladened with plates and cups, bowls and trays. Pieces that have taken me years to collect, each special in their own way. A proper studio if you will. I do love working from home, but sometimes it has its disadvantages.

When I am feeling unmotivated, there are far to many things to distract me, partnered with my slight ADD, it makes for an interesting day. It was but only a couple of hours ago that I caught myself beginning to organize the pantry, which is a little odd, because it is already extremely organized.

My assistant is fluffy, has floppy ears, and lacks opposable thumbs. He really doesn't listen to a thing I say, and given the chance, he will eat everything that I am photographing. I really should think about finding a replacement. My home is my work, and therefore I never leave it. I spend all day here, and it is important that I keep things in their appropriate spots - to my liking. It is neat and tidy, and if things get out of order, it bothers me to no end. It's been a real adjustment.

So, on this dreary morning, drizzle and overcast, I welcome you Monday, with wide open arms. I've been good to my body this past weekend, nourishing it with the right amount of love and care. It's been important that I take it easy, as I've been fighting a nasty bug for weeks. Every time there's a  sniffle or an ache, I start squeezing oranges, and fueling myself with hearty greens, citrus, and healthy bacteria like an obsessed maniac. I will win this battle, just you see. Mr. H and I have been alternating flu symptoms. He's got a sore throat, I've got a cough. He's extremely tired, well, I'm always tired. All this time, allowing my body to rest, I've been able to catch up on Downton Abby, Homeland, and Up All Night. Gosh, tv really is good these days.

I've never been able to figure out if Mondays are for cupcakes or salad? Do we need nourishment from our past weekend's binges, or cupcakes to start the week off right? Today I offer you a recipe for a salad and not cupcakes. I've made this decision, and I'm sticking with it. But you can head over to this site to drool at all of the delicious looking treats, which will hopefully make up it.

This salad is fresh, bright, crisp, colorful, and screams 'eat me' as soon as you lay your eyes on it. Not the kind of delicious that you can smell - cinnamon and yeast baking, caramelized onions frying. This is the type of delicious that needs not win you over with a tantalizing aroma - this salad is on a whole other level. It is packed full of healthy delicious goodness, and I'm glad we have become acquainted. It was originally a friend's recipe. We all went skiing, I brought cheesy bread and mushroom soup, she brought orzo salad. We feasted on wholesome food for days. It was nice to sit down and eat dinner as a family. I enjoyed her salad so much, I recreated a similar version of my own, and I am so excited to share it with you. 



makes 8 servings

notes: I usually have a jar of pepperoncini peppers in the fridge. They are sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy. You could substitute any hot peppers, or just omit if you do not have. You could use apple cider vinegar instead of the pepperoncini juice as well, it just needs to be tangy. Feel free to adjust the seasonings to desired taste - lemon, olive oil, pepperoncini juice, salt, and pepper. 


2 cups dry orzo pasta

6 cups cold water

1 lb grape tomatoes, halved

1 small cucumber, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 cup black olives, pits removed

4 - 6 small pickled pepperoncini peppers, sliced

juice from 1 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp pepperoncini or olive juice

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

salt and pepper to taste

baby spinach leaves (1/2 - 1 cup per serving)

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the orzo and cook for 9 minutes, or until soft and tender. Stir half way through to prevent sticking to the bottom. Once cooked, remove from the stove and drain. Wash the orzo under cold water to stop it from cooking. Place the strained orzo into a large bowl.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, black olives, and pepperoncini peppers. Toss.

Pour the juice from one lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil, and pepperoncini juice over the salad. Toss.

Add the crumbled feta and salt and pepper. Plate 1/2 - 1 cup of the spinach leaves per person. Scoop the salad on top of the spinach and serve cold. Do not add the spinach to the salad, as it will wilt.

Can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.