Orzo Pasta Salad with Cherries, Almonds, Goat Cheese and Greens


After what’s felt like a non-stop summer, I’m welcoming these last few weeks with open arms . My plan is for slow mornings spent drinking coffee on my back porch and lazy hot afternoons up in the mountains or next to a pool.

As of right now, my house is filled with tween-age boys who are playing some sort of freeze-tag like game that includes jumping from bed to bed throughout the house, so I’m not entirely sure how ‘peaceful’ or ‘slow’ the month will actually be, but a girl can dream, right?

This weekend our plan is to high tail it out of town first thing in the morning to hike the Naches Peak Loop Trail. I’m hoping for epic views and happy children. Once we’re properly sweaty and tired, we’ll head back into town for a barbecue on the patio.

Knowing I’m short on time when we get back from hiking, I plan to make this easy orzo salad filled with cherries, toasted almonds, bright herbs like basil, chives and parsley and creamy goat cheese. To stretch the salad, I pile the pasta on greens and this easy salad is not only tasty and satisfying but feeds a crowd. Perfect for a potluck or barbecue, take this salad to all your summer festivities.

And as always, use this recipe as a platform to make it your own. You can always swap cherries for blueberries or use both. Feta would be lovely instead of goat cheese and use any kind of greens you prefer. Arugula would be especially delicious but romaine or spinach work wonderfully too. You can’t go wrong!


Orzo Pasta Salad with Cherries, Almonds, Goat Cheese and Greens

·         2 cups cooked orzo pasta

·         1 cup pitted cherries sliced in half

·         ½ cup toasted slivered almonds

·         2 green onions diced

·         1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

·         2 tablespoons chives minced

·         2 tablespoons Italian parsley minced

·         2 tablespoons basil minced

·         Juice of half a lemon

·         1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

·         1-2 tablespoons olive oil

·         Kosher salt and black pepper

·         1 head romaine lettuce shredded

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, spread slivered almonds evenly on tray. Bake for 5 minutes or until the almonds turn golden brown. Stir once, a cook for another 2-3 minutes until the almonds are toasty and golden on all sides. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Cook orzo pasta to package instructions. When the pasta is tender but not soft, drain from water. Rinse pasta with cold water and return to the pot. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and stir well. Allow the pasta to cool completely.

In a medium bowl gently combine cooked orzo, cherries, slivered almonds, green onions, goat cheese and herbs. Stir to combine. Squeeze the lemon over the pasta mixture. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and remaining olive oil. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with kosher salt and pepper. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve (can be made a day ahead of time).

To serve the salad, wash and shred the lettuce. In a large serving bowl, layer the orzo salad over the greens. Garnish with minced basil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Gently combine the greens with the pasta.