Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad

I am not the most talented of gardeners. I over-water, under-water, over-fertilize, under-mulch. I plant little plants behind big plants, blocking out their sun. I then transplant my poorly placed plants to what I’m hoping will be a better location and almost kill them in the process. No, if a plant survives with me in charge it’s because it’s one heckova sturdy plant, or just has a strong will to live. I have been getting better at this over the years, but it still surprises me how difficult growing tomatoes can be, with the singular exception of the glorious sungold tomato. Do you know about the sungold? It’s a cherry tomato, or the size and shape of a cherry tomato, but brightly orange colored when ripe.

garden-sun-golds.jpg

It’s sweet, juicy, and sunshine in a bite. The plant scoffs at wilt. If nematodes bother it, you wouldn’t know. It grows like kudzu, faster than it can die from whatever may be killing our other tomatoes. About this time of year we have to reinforce our sun gold plant cages with rebar. This entails my father, a sledgehammer, and me holding on to the rebar praying that my dad’s aim is true.

Next year I’m going to plant more sungolds. I have one in my garden, and two at the garden I maintain at my parent’s house. And it’s not enough. One plant, even as prolific as it is, is just enough for tomato candy for one person throughout the growing season. You know, tomato candy: going out to the garden and picking the cherry tomatoes and eating them on the spot, like candy.

I picked a bunch of tomatoes from this plant (pictured) for the following salad. And then I ate the tomatoes and had to go buy more at the store. At least the oregano came from the garden!

About this salad. It’s excellent. Like a Greek salad with orzo pasta and without olives. Though you could easily add olives if you wanted to. You could probably make it with quinoa instead of the orzo, though I haven’t tried it that way yet. And if you like it, maybe you’ll want to plant some cherry tomatoes in your garden too. (I recommend sungolds.)

  • Prep: 25 minutes
  • Cook: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 as a side.

Do not refrigerate the tomatoes ahead of time. Doing so will hurt the flavor of the tomatoes and can make the texture mealy.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces orzo pasta
  • Salt
  • 1 pint red cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Black pepper to taste

Method

1 Bring a large pot of well salted water to a rolling boil. Add the orzo, stirring it so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook, uncovered, at a high boil until al dente, cooked through but still a bit firm. Drain the pasta (it helps to use a fine mesh sieve for this as the small orzo might pass through holes in a colander), and rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking further.

2 Toss the pasta with the olive oil in a large bowl. At this point you can make ahead and chill until you are ready to serve (or transport to a party). Toss with the rest of the ingredients, the tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber, green onions, oregano, lemon juice, and black pepper. The feta is salty so you shouldn't need to add more salt.

Main Ingredients

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