Our family LOVES everything about Italy. It is our number one vacation destination (if not traveling across the beautiful African continent).
The Italian people, the history, the quaint old walled towns, the strong espresso served on the square, the delectable cuisine using fresh ingredients, the gelato in every flavour and colour, the delectable pasta made by an Italian Nonna, char grilled vegetables soaked in olive oil, full bodied red wine, long family dinners around the dinner table…what is there not to like?
This beautiful fresh salad embodies all that Italy represents: al dente pasta, extra virgin olive oil, fresh tomatoes bursting in your mouth, proudly fat olives, vibrant green basil leaves… all tossed together and served as a special side dish with a relaxed afternoon lunch.
The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.George Miller, Director
ITALIAN PASTA RICE SALAD
1 1/2 Cup uncooked pasta rice (orzo)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts + more for serving (optional)
1 small red onion finely chopped
12 kalamata olives pitted and sliced
1 Cup Feta cheese, cut into small cubes
Handful of cherry tomatoes cut into quarters (I like the rainbow mix available in some supermarkets)
The juice of half a lemon
1/2 Cup basil pesto
Black pepper and sea salt to season
1 Fresh Avocado, chopped
A small handful of fresh basil chopped
- Cook the pasta rice according to the packet. Once cooked, drain in a colander then rinse under the cold tap.Stir in half a tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and leave the pasta to cool fully.Transfer to a large bowl or serving dish.
- Add the pesto to a small bowl, pour in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a large lemon, stir well.
- Once the pasta has cooled add the chopped onion, cherry tomatoes, feta and the kalamata olives to the pasta.Pour the pesto dressing into the bowl then add the basil and pine nuts and toss carefully.
- Season with cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste.
- Top with more basil leaves and fresh chopped avocado
- Serve at room temperature
Making ahead – This can be made a day ahead, just store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Add avocado before serving with fresh basil leaves.