Monday, May 12, 2014

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad is one of my favorite salads. It is also a great side dish. I served it on Alya's 3rd Birthday Party, click here to read about it. The best thing about this dish is that it can be made in advance; actually, it tastes better the next day which makes it a great choice when entertaining.
This is why I decided to make it for Alya's preschool Pot Luck lunch for Teachers' Appreciation Week. The ingredients are simple, available and work together. It is no secret that I love eggplant and it makes a great addition to this salad. I chose to use Chinese Eggplant because it does not have many seeds and it was available at the grocery store.  Add the salt at the end because the olives, feta, and capers are all salty ingredients. 

3 Chinese eggplant (or any eggplant)
1/4 cup Olive oil or canola oil for cooking the eggplant
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1/4 small red onion
1/2 cup of kalamata olives or any kind of olive you like
1/4 cup of drained capers
1/2 cup of crumbled French Feta 
Fresh tablespoons of each oregano, chives, mint and parsley
1 package of orzo pasta
Water for boiling the pasta 
Salt for the pasta water

1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar 
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Black peppers and salt to taste

Remove the top part of the eggplant. Cut it into 1 inch cubes or smaller if you like. Add the olive oil to a pan on medium heat, add the cut eggplant and sautee them until fully cooked. Eggplant is like a sponge, it absorbs the oil so just keep on stirring to make sure that the eggplant does not stick to the pan. Cook the eggplant in batches because you don't want to crowd them resulting in soggy eggplant. Once cooked, place in the serving bowl. 
In a big pot add some water and bring to boil. Add some salt and add the orzo pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Orzo pasta cooks very quickly. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the bowl
While the water is boiling, prepare the rest of the ingredients:

Quarter the grape tomatoes and add to the bowl

Finely chop the red onion and add to the bowl
Chop the kalamata olives and add to the bowl
Crumble the feta and add to the bowl
Add the drained capers
Add the chopped herbs
Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients except the salt. Add to the salad bowl and mix. Taste, add salt accordingly and adjust seasoning and dressing to taste. 
Cover and refrigerate until serving time.


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