Recipe Monday: Pasta Salads!

Happy Monday! I am delighted that one of my favorite friends (and former roommate), Mindy, has agreed to do a Recipe Monday! She is an amazing cook, always coming up with creative dishes that I love! (she is responsible for my Chicken Enchiladas)
Enjoy! -jenica

I have never been a fan of pasta salads.  Something about that traditional corkscrew pasta salad topped with bottled Italian dressing just never appealed to me. But in recent years I have discovered some creative recipes for more fresh, veggie filled pasta salads that I have found both yummy and inspiring. I recently came across this recipe for an Orzo + Broccoli Pesto Salad posted by Sara at Sprouted Kitchen (one of my fave recipe blogs) that I am SO excited to try. And this recipe by the one and only Ina Garten herself has now become a staple summer barbecue side dish for me. Now that spring has sprung in Southern California all I have been thinking about are the upcoming barbecues with friends and family, seasonal eats and dining al fresco.  So the dish I want to share with you is a super simple, fresh and delicious pasta salad recipe that I think is the perfect side dish for any spring or summer meal. 

Lemony Spinach Orzo Salad
1 c. uncooked Orzo Pasta
2 c. fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
¼ c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ c. garlic infused olive oil
1 c. Shredded Parmesean
½ c. Pine Nuts

Cook pasta according to package directions, being careful not to overcook.  While pasta is cooking, combine lemon juice and garlic oil, shake to combine. When pasta is done cooking, rinse with cold water and drain. Combine in a large bowl with spinach, tomatoes and dressing. Refrigerate for a couple hours. Before serving, mix in pine nuts and cheese.

**I had some leftovers of this salad so the next night I added some additional spinach and sautéed it just to warm it. Added a squeeze of lemon and it served as a great warm side dish to the Chicken dish that I was making.

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