Ooof. Just as I was getting used to the chilly mornings and evenings with mild days in between, summer has come screeching back to Minnesota. Not that it’s really a surprise. I mean, it’s still August after all and the Minnesota State Fair has just begun! It wouldn’t be state fair time if the temps weren’t pushing 90 degrees every day, right?!
I had planned to make eggplant parmesan tonight for Sunday dinner but when it came down to it, I just couldn’t fathom having the oven on for an hour. Our little A/C unit wouldn’t stand a chance to that and we’d end up eating our eggplant parmesan with beads of sweat running down our foreheads. So I changed the game plan and decided to make this light and very summery dish for dinner.
The idea for this dish came from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, but I was really inspired to make it during my trip to the farmers market this weekend. The tomatoes were out of control! Red ones, yellow ones, orange ones, green ones, and even purples ones! They were absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t say no to buying them. Plus, everything just tastes better from the farmers market. The particular tomatoes I used in this dish were the smaller cherry tomatoes which came in red and yellow and were so sweet and flavorful! I now understand why some people refer to them as “nature’s candy.”
This dish has so many wonderful things going on – the orzo pasta, the sweet cherry tomatoes, fragrant basil, peppery arugula, tangy feta, and a simple vinaigrette dressing. Together, they make one truly delicious salad. I debated on whether to use arugula or spinach to ‘up’ the greenery and make this more salad than pasta and I’m really glad I went with the arugula. It added a ton of flavor that I wouldn’t have gotten with spinach which complemented the basil perfectly. Another highlight of this dish was the feta cheese, as it balanced out the flavors and added its signature tanginess.
While we ate this as a main dish along with some french bread, it would also be great as a side dish to grilled chicken or steak. Especially for those of you who are still firing up those grills…because summer definitely isn’t over yet!
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