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Orzo Salad with Arugula and Dried Cherries

Orzo Salad inspired by Giada De Laurentis

Sunday was the premiere of this seasons Food Network Star.  My oldest and I started watching together 5 years ago and have watched together every season since.  My girls now watch it too and it has become one of our favorite Summer activities.  To celebrate, I made one of my favorite Food Network recipes for dinner.  Giada has a recipe for Tri-Colore Orzo.  We just refer to it as Arugula Orzo Salad.  Call it what you want, it is delicious.  We make the recipe almost exactly as hers, but we use feta instead of ricotta salata and I double just about everything yummy she puts in it!

What you need:

2 cups orzo pasta (4 cups cooked)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 Tbs
2 cups fresh arugula, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup dried cherries
12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (you could use less, but I love pine nuts, so two of the 2.5 ounce packages is the minimum I will put in anything that calls for pine nuts!)
juice of 2 lemons
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use kosher)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

What you do:

Boil the orzo according to package directions for al dente pasta.  I usually just take a minute off of the cooking time.

 Drain pasta and spread it out on a large cookie sheet and drizzle with  3 tablespoons of olive oil.  (Mix it around with a spatula to make sure it is coated and then spread it out to cool.  The olive oil will keep it from clumping together)

Mix all of the remaining ingredients in a bowl and then add the orzo once it has cooled.  Combine all of the ingredients and serve.

(I like the taste of it better after it has sat in the fridge a few hours)
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