Here are two very simple summer dishes that use pasta, tomatoes, and feta cheese. They are versatile, take about 30 minutes to prepare, and make really good leftovers.
- 1 package of orzo
- 1 bag of frozen or 2 bunches of fresh spinach
- Some crumbled feta – at least 4 ounces
- 1 can of tomatoes or 2-3 chopped fresh ripe tomatoes
- olive oil, salt, pepper
- In a large pot, boil some water. Throw in orzo and spinach. Cook until orzo is tender (according to package instructions). Spinach will wilt and the water will turn green. Drain in a colander and return everything to the pot.
- Drizzle a little olive oil and add some salt and pepper.
- Throw in the tomatoes.
- Toss in the crumbled feta and mix well.
- This can be eaten warm or cold, makes enough for dinner for 2 and a couple lunches, reheats well, is a good side dish for chicken or fish, and whenever I make it for a party or potluck it is consumed as if by a swarm of locusts.
- If you want to get fancy at some point, throw in a handful of lightly toasted pinenuts or pitted chopped kalamata olives.
Tomato, Basil, and Feta Pasta Salad
- Finely chop 1/2 a red onion and put it in a small bowl. Add 3 tsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. of a red wine or balsamic vinegar, some salt, some pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Let it sit while you cook the rest.
- Cook 1 lb. of any short, wide pasta (ziti, penne, elbow, shells, rigatoni, etc.) according to package directions, drain and return to pot.
Drizzle with a little olive oil, add some salt and pepper, toss to coat. Taste it – it should taste good plain. Let it cool.
- Add 4-5 ripe fresh tomatoes (about 2 lbs), sliced into bite-sized wedges to the pot. You can’t fake it with sad pale tomatoes – you need red ones.
- Add 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, sliced or torn into thin strips and mix well.
- Add the dressing you made with the red onion and vinegar and oil to the pot. Mix well. Taste it and add a little more salt & pepper if needed. You could totally eat this right now without any feta, but keep reading if you like feta.
- Crumble some feta (4-6 ounces). Dish the salad out into bowls and sprinkle the feta on it as you serve. Important: Do not mix the feta into the big bowl of salad, it tastes best when the ingredients are combined at the last minute.
- Again, this makes dinner for 4 (or for 2 + 2 lunches) as a main dish. It keeps for a day or two (but again, keep the feta and the salad separate until just before you eat it).
- Stirring in some pitted kalamata olives when you garnish with the feta is not a bad idea.
- Also scarfed up at parties.