caprese orzo salad

I'm going to be honest. Out of all the things I made for our 3rd of July party, I was the least interested in this one. Like, when I was listing out the different items I would always close it with "oh... and a caprese orzo salad". I figured it was the dish that even picky eaters would enjoy.

Despite my lack of interest, I actually do love orzo. I've once tried to replicate the Whole Foods orzo salad with moderate success. I just wasn't super invested in this pasta salad because I knew I wasn't getting amazing mozzarella. I wasn't growing the tomatoes. I dislike buying basil. The magic of a caprese salad is really pulling the ingredients from the yard and having a seriously good burrata or mozzarella.
This "salad" was incredibly easy to make. Like - embarrassingly so. The biggest challenge honestly was managing the orzo. In a fit of rage I texted a friend that it was the devil's pasta. It is impossible to strain after cooking. It ends up everywhere after you've cooked it. They are like little sticky bits of gluten that end up in all the crevices of spoons and on the kitchen floor. But, I still love orzo... I just don't love cooking two pounds of it at once.

When I was busy interrogating my guests about their favorite dishes.... this was one of the first ones they said. To which, I immediately followed with "Wait, what?". The lesson here is something simple is just as good - and maybe even better - than something pretentious. Because I'm being honest and the other two sides were kind of pretentious (sesame ginger green beans, mustard -walnut arugula roasted potatoes).

Here's how it goes.
  1. Bring medium pot of water to boil and add the orzo. 
  2. Cook for about 9 minutes. Strain and let cool. (I drained all the hot water and immediately added cold water to stop the cooking process. Then drained again)
  3. Prepare the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
  4. Combine the pasta, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella in your serving dish or another big mixing bowl.
  5. Prepare the dressing by combining the ingredients and mixing well. Taste along the way and adjust your flavors. My garlic was a little off and I balanced it out with a bit more lemon juice.
  6. Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture. Use tongs / spoons to combine well. You want that honey balsamic goodness over everything. 
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Shopping List
1 lb orzo
1 pint cherry tomatoes
12 oz whole milk mozzarella
1 handful of basil

3 T olive oil
1 T honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T balsamic
1 tsp lemon juice

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