The week after I gave birth to my son, my dear friend Becky brought us dinner for when we came home from the hospital. One of the components was a delicious orzo based pasta salad from Epicurious.com called Orzo with Everything.
Since she introduced me to it almost five years ago (Thanks Becky!), I’ve made it many times and it’s always a hit.
I’ve been thinking about trying a version using lightly cooked “al dente” cauliflower to stand in for the orzo for awhile now. The flavors of the salad are Mediterranean based (Balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, etc…), and I hoped that they would be robust enough to mask any cauliflower flavor.
The original recipe calls for radicchio, which has a nice bite to it, but I subbed in red cabbage for mine because I couldn’t find any in my local grocery store. The cabbage worked, but if you can find the radicchio I recommend it!
The original recipe also calls for toasted pine nuts which are a really tasty addition. I omitted them from my version simply because they are expensive and hard to find depending on where you live, and I wanted to see if it would still taste good without them. It does, but if you have them, toast some up and toss them in because they are awesome.
Lastly, I added chopped artichoke hearts, which added a nice flavor and texture. I can’t say it’s as good as the original – only because it’s hard to beat the chewiness and comfort food feel of the pasta, but the cauliflower worked really well as a substitute.
This is a truly delicious, flavor-packed side dish – and it’s hearty enough (especially with the pine nuts) to eat on it’s own for a light lunch. Hope you guys like it!
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients – I promise it’s worth it!