Minty Orzo Salad with Grilled Beef Recipe

This whole-meal pasta salad brings flavors of hummus and tabbouleh together—plus six more meal and side-salad recipes to enjoy at home or on a picnic
Minty Orzo Salad with Grilled Beef

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Pasta salad makes a delicious lunch or dinner at home or to pack for a picnic. And there are many more options than the ever-popular chicken with a mayo-based sauce. Here the flavors of Middle Eastern favorites hummus and tabbouleh find a new home in pasta. Orzo cooks quickly and makes a great foil for the juicy grilled beef on top says Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, who created this recipe for Real Food. Serve hummus and veggie slices on the side for a delicious combination.

Tip: For chilled pasta dishes, the pasta should be completely cooked as it will become a little firmer when cold, notes Asbell. When cooking pasta to serve cold, rinse briefly with cool water. This removes the surface starches that make it sticky.

Minty Orzo Salad with Grilled Beef

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
3 medium scallions, minced

For the Dressing
1 cup parsley, packed
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1 clove garlic, peeled
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces orzo (1½ cups cooked)
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained

1 pound steak
olive oil for pan
coarse salt, to taste

  1. Put a large pot of salted water on the stove over high heat and bring to boil to cook the orzo.
  2. Chop the cucumber, tomato, pepper and scallions in small pieces and reserve.
  3. For the dressing, mince parsley, mint and garlic in a food processor, add the lemon juice, and process, adding the olive oil gradually through the feed tube. Add pepper and salt and mix.
  4. Cook the orzo according to package directions, about 9 minutes. When cooked, rinse well with cold water, drain and place in a large bowl. Add the vegetables and chickpeas and toss to mix. Drizzle with 2/3 of the dressing, reserving the rest for the beef.
  5. Heat a grill pan or cast iron pan until hot, and then drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt on the steaks before placing them, oil side down, in the pan. Sear for about 2 minutes, until browned and marked. Oil and salt the tops and flip. Cook for about 2 minutes again, depending on the thickness of the steaks. Place the cooked steak on a cutting board to cool for 5 minutes, and then slice thinly across the grain. Let the steaks come to room temperature to serve.
  6. Spread the salad on a large platter or individual plates, place sliced beef on top, and drizzle with reserved dressing.

Nutrition info Orzo Salad with Beef (per serving): Calories 616 (257 From Fat); Fat 29g (Sat. 5g); Chol 50mg; Sodium 1044mg; Carb 58g; Fiber 8g; Protein 32g

Rosemary Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Hungry for More?

Check out these meal and side-salad recipes for more ideas to serve at home or pack for a picnic.

Rosemary Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe
A fresh take on chicken salad packs easily for a picnic or potluck and offers a lighter option at backyard barbecues.

Chicken and Blueberry Farfalle Salad Recipe
This quick chicken pasta salad mixes in fragrant fruitiness and a crunch of walnuts.

Orecchiette with Cantaloupe, Basil, and Crispy Pancetta Recipe
If you think cantaloupe is only for fruit salads, prepare to wake up your taste buds with this combination of sweet, tart, savory and salty.

Summer Penne Primavera with Grilled Vegetables Recipe
Grilling adds depth and texture to fresh veggies in this quick-and-easy pasta that can be served warm or cold.

Watermelon Salad with Mint Recipe
Watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes and mint make a refreshingly juicy and zingy salad.

Mexican-Style Potato & Vegetable Salad Recipe
Add a variety of vegetables with a kick of mustard vinaigrette to your menu.

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.