Orzo Salad With Peppers and Feta
Piperade, a classic Basque dish of stewed peppers, onions and tomatoes, becomes a flavorful sauce for this pasta. Colorful bell peppers simmer in olive oil and aromatics until meltingly soft, and juicy tomatoes simmer alongside until they burst, lending both tangy and sweet notes. Briny feta adds salty bites to complement the sweet pepper sauce, but tart aged goat cheese makes a good alternative. This side is even better at room temperature, making it the perfect make-ahead dish for summer picnics or potlucks.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1pound orzo
- Kosher salt and pepper
- ¼cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3large or 4 medium red, yellow or orange bell peppers (about 1 1/4 pounds), cored, seeded and chopped into ½-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
- 1fresh thyme sprig
- 1tablespoon minced garlic
- 1medium tomato, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- 4ounces feta cheese, thinly sliced or crumbled
Step 1Cook orzo in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta, pressing out excess liquid. Spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion, bell peppers and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until broken down and juices release, about 8 minutes.
Step 3Add the reserved pasta water and stir to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the skillet. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl to cool slightly to lukewarm, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to speed up the cooling process. Discard thyme sprig.
Step 4Add cooled orzo, lemon juice, basil and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well, then transfer to a large serving bowl or platter. Garnish with more basil.