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Happy Easter

This cold pasta salad has long been one of my “go-to” recipes for buffets and parties. I pulled it out once again for yesterday’s office Easter brunch. The dressing is made with a large number of red pepper flakes, which are drained after the dressing simmers.  It is up to your taste as to how many you add back into the salad. For Easter I use ham but for most of the rest of the year, I prefer to use smoked turkey as the meat in this hearty salad. Of course, you can always leave any and all meat out and have a lovely and satisfying vegetarian option.

Connor and Marissa with Grandpa Otter (my dad) at Easter Brunch this morning.

Cold Orzo Salad with Ham, Corn, & Basil

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
4 bay leaves
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 pound dry orzo pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound julienned ham or smoked turkey
5 cups fresh raw white or yellow corn kernels
2/3 cup minced fresh basil
1 cup minced green onions, use entire green onion
1 large red bell pepper, julienned and blanched
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Basil sprigs and lime wedges for garnish

To make the dressing, combine the chile flakes, vinegar, corn syrup, bay leaves, and lime juice in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain, reserve the red pepper flakes and allow the dressing to cool. Discard the bay leaves.

In a pot of lightly salted, boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the orzo to stop the cooking. Drain, pour into a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil.

Then add the dressing and lightly toss to combine. Add the ham, corn, basil, green onions, bell pepper, and 2 teaspoons of the reserved red pepper flakes.

Lightly toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Add more red pepper flakes, if desired.  Chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and garnish with basil sprigs and lime wedges just before serving.

Serves 10 -12

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1 comment

1 Sloane { 04.06.10 at 9:28 AM }

That looks yummy!

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