Asian Orzo Salad

Posted: September 10, 2015

Guest Post by Brenda Kieffer

Orzo is pasta, not rice, but can substitute for rice in many recipes and it looks similar, like a fat version of rice.  The cooking method is boiling, like pasta, not absorption; you raw-orzowill drain off the cooking liquid. Unlike rice, properly cooked orzo will have a chewy “bite” similar to any well cooked pasta. This pasta is a favorite for chefs to add to peasant, hearty soups to bulk up the dish.  It doesn’t break down like rice can on reheating and is forgiving if left on the heat too long.  Although some markets classify orzo in the “healthy” section, basically, it is just like any other pasta-a carbohydrate-use sparingly and mix with other healthful ingredients.

Here’s a comfort food dish that is very quick to make, can be made ahead, and is great for a one-dish meal; warm it for winter or serve chilled for summer.  It’s a fantastic, different pasta salad and it travels perfectly. I love it when the stars align and I have leftover roast chicken and bits and pieces of vegetables sitting around-not enough for a full size serving, but enough to add plenty of interest to this dish.  I often make this…and it’s rarely the same twice. I give you Asian Orzo Salad


Asian Orzo Salad Ingredients

  •     ½ lb. cooked orzo (see packorzo-saladage directions)
  •     1 TBL sesame oil
  •     3 cups shredded carrots (about 6 medium)
  •     2 stalks of celery, sliced thinly
  •     2 C of julienned spinach, kale, or arugula (or a mix)
  •     2 C raisins or dried cranberries
  •     1 C sunflower seeds or pine nuts, toasted (try to get unsalted ones).  I sometime use toasted slivered almonds
  •     1 C cooked shredded chicken
  •     Optional: canned chick peas (drained or rinsed), cooked asparagus cut into 2 inch pieces; mandarin or regular oranges (drained, if canned), snow peas, etc.-about 1 C each

Note: You get the idea for ingredients…just don’t overwhelm with too much going on-like raisins, cranberries AND oranges.  This is a layered flavor dish, but too many flavors confuse the palate.  Think about how the flavors and textures of the ingredients you choose go together.  Remember this is a sesame dressing-think Asian! Exact proportions don’t matter too much here…if you LOVE kale add a little more.


  •     Cook the orzo according to package directions (about 7-10 minutes).
  •     Drain-be careful that the strainer you use doesn’t have holes that are too large-the orzo will slip through.  Rinse under cold water and drain again, getting the orzo as dry as you can.
  •     Add the tablespoon sesame oil (the one from the salad ingredients list), toss and set aside to cool (the cold water rinsing of the starch and adding the oil helps keep the orzo from sticking together when chilled)
  •     Toss with the rest of the ingredients and enough dressing to moisten and flavor-there should NOT be dressing pooling in the bottom of the bowl.
  •     If you are going to make this ahead, keep the ingredients separate from the dressing and toss at the last minute. Especially keep the sunflower seeds or pine nuts separate from the veggies and chicken until the last minute or they will lose their crunch.

Dressing Ingredients:

  •     1/4 C corn oil
  •     2 TBL sesame oil
  •     1/4 C rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  •     1TBL rice wine or dry sherry
  •     ½ tsp. grated orange rind
  •     2 TBL thinly sliced scallions
  •     1 tsp. soy sauce
  •     1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  •     ½ tsp. minced garlic
  •     ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  •     1 tsp. pepper
  •     2 tsp. sugar
  •     2 TBL. minced cilantro or parsley

Dressing Directions:

Mix in a food processor, blender or by hand.  Set aside.


About Brenda Kieffer: Brenda is a certified Chef and is responsible for cooking appliance demos, as well as all store events where food is served. She also teaches at Montgomery County Community College in their Culinary Enthusiast program.

For recipes, restaurant reviews, and more check out Brenda’s Blog at

Unfortunately, food doesn’t cook itself.  When you need appliances, contact:


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