Southwest Orzo Salad with a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Southwest Orzo Salad with a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

I have no rhythm. None at all.

But that doesn’t usually stop me from dancing. Like a fool.

Southwest Orzo Salad with a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette-1

Case in point, this past Friday’s work event to celebrate Bonus Day.

In all 45+offices, we recap how the firm is going financially and highlight great projects that have won awards. And then we go out to have some fun and drinks.

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We headed over to Topgolf Tampa after work to smack some balls into the illuminated targets to earn points. It’s so much fun, but I was so bad about it. So I decided to breeze through my turns by hitting the ball as if I was playing hockey, which just means I have horrible, horrible form and aim. Instead, I danced around to the music that was getting blasted over the speakers.

I got so silly that I danced to “Watch Me” (Whip/Nae Nae) with our waitress. I think my coworker has a video. I’m scared that will one day surface. LOL!

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Besides all that dancing this weekend, I whipped up this Orzo salad that will knock your socks off. It has just enough of a smokey kick from the dressing to give it some heat without making your great putting a heaping spoonful on your plate.

I think it’s a great addition to Taco Tuesday dinners as it has all the fun elements and flavors that are traditionally in dishes from the Southwest.

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Besides the bell pepper, tomatoes, corn, and beans you could add in some red onion or diced black olives. My dad hates raw onion so I skipped it for him in this batch so he could enjoy it as well. I mean, I could eat this whole batch myself, but sharing is caring.

This will make the perfect side for tacos as well as grilled chicken or grilled steak that is dressed with a tangy chimichurri sauce. I served this with baked chicken breast with a zesty dipping sauce. I can’t wait to share that as well!

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I highly suggest putting on some music that you can dance to while you whip this up. It will just be so fun to dance around the kitchen and then stuff your face with this Southwest Orzo Salad.

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Southwest Orzo Salad with a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette 

Makes 12-20 servings

Ingredients

For the pasta salad

  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Cups fresh raw corn kernels (3-4 ears)
  • 8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled

For the vinaigrette

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 Cup olive oil
  • 3/4 Cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 Cup olive oil
  • roughly 1 Cup of finely chopped cilantro

Process

  1. Cook the orzo until al dente, according to the packaging. Drain, rinse, and lay out on a sheet tray to cool quickly. You can even put in the fridge to expedite the cooling.
  2. While the orzo cooks and cools, dice the bell peppers tomatoes. Remove the seeds and juicy center prior to dicing the tomatoes. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs by standing the corn up in a very large bowl and and carefully running a large knife down the cobs.
  3. Mix together the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well.
  4. In a very large bowl, combine the cooled orzo with the bell pepper, tomato, corn, black beans. Add the dressing and stir to combine and coat everything. Gently fold in the feta. Let chill for at least 2 hours.
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