Inspired by Chef Stephanie Johnston, this orzo salad has it all! From the crunchy walnuts and grilled corn, to the spicy jalapenos and salty Pecorino.
Such a treat of a salad. Your friends and family will not be disappointed with this crunchy refreshing summer take on pasta salad. My bestie Steph made this for us on a little outdoor picnic one summer in Chicago and it just blew my mind. The sweetness from the peach adds such a refreshing bite with all the tangy flavors, you’ll be saying “ahhh”. This salad is all about texture and crunch. Practice your knife skills and make sure to cut all your produce the same size, so it fits on our spoons. The flavors of the toasted walnut, Pecorino, and grilled corn really stick out in this pasta salad. All these ingredients work together, you just have to trust me.
Let’s talk about fresh produce. We all have our random assortments of fruits and vegetables sitting in a drawer in the fridge. Use them! This salad is an example of taking simple ingredients and flavors, mixing them with a citrusy vinaigrette, and eating. Peaches are everywhere in the summertime and it makes me want to create. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have many savory peach recipes in my arsenal. There’s something about the crunchy jalapeno, juicy tomato, and crisp peach that work magic. This combo could even be a tasty salsa. Salads are no longer boring… hello?…it’s 2022. We are bulking up our salads with fresh and roasted produce, tossing them with zesty herby things, and ALWAYS include some salty cheeses.
Isn’t orzo just for soup? We actually use this pasta in other things than just soups, like salads. A little orzo to any salad adds a nice filling bite, but what about a pasta salad? Orzo makes for great pasta salads because of its size. It doesn’t absorb as much liquid as other pasta and has a fabulous mouth feel. Make sure to cool this orzo in a wide shallow bowl when it’s cooked. This pasta easily overcooks. Whatever you do, do not rinse your pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process. Rinsing your cooked pasta in the sink washes away the starches that help the sauce cling to the pasta. That’s why so many chefs love an al dente pasta moment, you just have more control as the pasta cools and continues to cook.
Grilled Corn & Peach Salad
15m prep time
15m cook time
- 3 ears of corn, grilled and shucked
- 2 peaches, sliced into wedges
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, sliced into rings
- 1 cup orzo, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 8 - 10 basil leaves, chiffonade
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook orzo for 4 - 6 minutes. Remove from the bowl and let cool in a wide tray with 2 tablespoons of butter.
- In a large bowl, mix together red onion, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, parsley, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and let rest until onions start to turn pink.
- Toss corn kernels, sliced peaches, tomatoes, walnuts, jalapeno, basil and Pecorino into the large bowl with vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning.
- Enjoy warm or cold!
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.