Tag Archives: basil

Orzo Salad with Peas and Feta

My 4th of July plans are pretty low key this year and I plan on curling up with a good book, a turkey burger and a cocktail. But so many people will be heading to the beach, the lake, the park, the pool or a friend’s house for fireworks and that means needing food. Maybe you’ll be having a burger like me or something else grilled. Maybe you’ll take this holiday weekend to consume as much ice cream as you can. Or maybe it’s the time to eat salads and I don’t mean the leafy green kind. I mean the potato-y, mayonnaise-y, pasta-y kind. This Orzo Salad has been a long time staple of mine which is my go-to dish whenever there is a potluck at work, a picnic or any impromptu get-together.

Quick-cooking orzo, frozen peas, and feta cheese are mixed together with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. That’s it. This pasta salad is so fast to make and easy to throw together at the last minute. This salad doesn’t have a lot of ingredients so the vinegar comes through nicely without being too overpowering and the peas add a subtle sweetness which pairs so well with the pasta. I used basil instead of parsley because I had it on hand but any herb would work here. The herbs provide a bold freshness which only complements this pasta. Orzo cooks in about nine minutes so if you have a box on hand, this is something that you can pull together quickly. Give this a try anytime you need a quick side whether it’s a holiday weekend or not. I bet it’ll become your go-to recipe too.

If you like this, also check out Orzo Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil.


Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well to coat.


Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.


Additions: None

Omissions: None


  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat feta cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Green Pesto Sauce

I’m a real sucker for pesto but it’s one of those sauces that I don’t like to buy (I think it’s better when it’s fresh) yet I never make it at home, even when I have a bunch of basil.  Pesto is so full of flavor and so easy to make that it’s just silly that I don’t make it more. It’s good on any meat, pasta, veggie, pizza, sandwich or even eggs. When I came across this recipe for Green Pesto Sauce, I wasn’t sure what to think since it’s made with fruit juice but one day at the store, I found myself looking at bottles of Naked juice and decided to give this pesto a try.

Basic pesto ingredients of basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, and nuts (I used sliced almonds because I had them on hand) are combined with parsley, green fruit juice and lemon juice which add other layers of flavor. This isn’t your basic pesto so the hint of sweetness from the fruit juice may not be your cup of tea. And while I prefer regular pesto, I was pretty surprised with the interesting and unique flavor of this.


In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth.



Serve at once atop steamed or roasted potatoes or vegetables or cover and chill up to 2 days. Stir in additional juice to desired consistency.


Additions:  None

Omissions:  None


  • Sliced almonds
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Marinated Peppers and Mozzarella

Sorry if I’ve been a little obsessed with appetizers lately.  They are just so easy to make and most of the time they are much easier to keep portion controlled than a bigger meal.  But when I first used mini bell peppers for this appetizer a while ago, I’ve kind of been looking for another recipe for them. And when I saw them on sale at my grocery store this weekend, I grabbed them without a second thought.  I’m not really sure how I came across this recipe for Marinated Peppers and Mozzarella (on page 6 of the booklet) but I’m sure glad I did.

Mini bell peppers are broiled until blackened and soft and then mixed with olive oil, garlic, lemon rind and red pepper flakes. After marinating in the refrigerator overnight, lemon juice and fresh basil are added, livening up these low-carb peppers which are RIDICULOUS. The peppers are perfectly soft, sweet, and mellow, the mozzarella is creamy and rich, the red pepper flakes are mildly spicy, the lemon is bright and the basil is perfectly aromatic. I used half the amount of olive oil indicated in the recipe and still think I could have used less so use your judgment. These are fantastic just the way they are but would also be great served on some baguette slices or even with the peppers cut up in some pasta. Mini bell peppers, I’m officially in love with you.


Preheat broiler to high. Arrange sweet peppers in a single layer on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan; broil peppers 4 minutes on each side or until blackened and tender. Cool.


Combine peppers, olive oil, garlic, lemon rind, crushed red pepper, salt, and mozzarella balls; toss. Cover and refrigerate overnight, tossing occasionally.


Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Stir in basil leaves and lemon juice before serving.



Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  cookinglight.com

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