This salad is… well it’s good. Very good. So good that I would find myself leaving a spoon in the leftover container just so I could sneak bites when I walked by the fridge. So good that I would invent reasons to walk by the fridge just so that I could sneak a bite. I literally finished the last of this salad sitting on a stool on the floor so that Rose could share the last of the fabulousness with me. There is something about the tang of the lemon mixed with the sweet of the sun dried tomatoes and the savoriness of the bacon that just kept pulling me in.
This would be great to bring to a pot luck as it gets better the longer the dressing has to meld with the pasta.
I made a few changes from the original recipe such as increasing the amount of orzo (I couldn’t find a box small enough and didn’t want to waste any) and added in some of the delicious applewood smoked bacon I had picked up a few days earlier. If you want to make it a vegetarian recipe just leave out the bacon and walla! I had found a bunch of asparagus that was thinner than a pencil so the quick blanching time worked wonderfully. If you can’t find asparagus that thin just cut the pieces a little smaller and increase the blanching time by a minute or so.
Vegetable and Bacon Orzo Salad
adapted from Food for my Family
8 oz thick cut bacon, about half a package
1 bunch asparagus, about 3 cups diced with bottom 2 inches removed
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz orzo pasta, cooked al dente and cooled
15-oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
3 oz sun dried tomatoes, julienne cut
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Cook bacon until fully cooked but not too crispy. Drain the grease from the pan, reserving one tablespoon. When cool, chop into pieces.
2. Add shallots and garlic to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes until just tender.
3. Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Turn off the burner, add in the asparagus pieces and blanch for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
4. In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta, asparagus, shallots, garlic, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and lemon zest.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. While continuously whisking, slowly pour olive oil into the mixture. Stir the dressing into the salad.
6. Cool in refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Trust me, this only gets better with refrigeration.