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Orzo Salad with Chili Maple Dressing

Do you have a favorite TV channel that you can watch all the time??? I have discovered that I do have one…….. and no, its not cooking TV, food network or nay of its international equivalents !!!! Its actually the home and garden TV or HGTV as its know here !!!  I love to see these horrible rooms or houses undergo these amazing transformations and end up gorgeous !!!! Will mine ever look that way ?? Probably not….I do have three children who think nothing of playing football, dodge ball or monkey in the middle in the house !!!!

 Why am I telling you this, you ask…..well when V was out of town last week, I was at a loose end after the kids bedtime…..that’s when we usually talk ……..so I ended up watching these shows one after another for an hour and half.  It was about these families or couples who bought houses with almost everything that they wanted and then renovated what they didn’t like !!! Now, we finally get to my point…….when we bought this house, everything was perfect except the kitchen….ironic isn’t it since it’s the most important room to me!!!  Anyway, I was ok with it as it was only a small reno ….only the island had to be changed the rest of the kitchen is fine.

 After a year and a half , we were finally ready. We got the contractors, hashed out the island plan and counters. That’s when I realized, it was D’s teacher’s Ms. T’s b’day !! Now, I always make lunch for the teachers for their b’days and take it over. It’s my way of saying thank you.  Now there I was with samples of paint, counter etc. everywhere and the contractor almost at my door ready to remove this contraption above my stove…..yes, my stove is on my island with a microwave hanging above it…….you cant even imagine such an arrangement can you ???

Orzo Salad

So what to do when I have very little time before my kitchen is demolished but do not want to compromise on flavor and taste. Never thought you’d hear that in a sentence, did you ??? Well,I bought this bag of orzo sometime back but never got around to making it so out it came. Next stop was the refrigerator to see what I could dig up. When I went to see my sis S in Toronto, I found these awesome dried cranberries at a natural food store with no added sugar so out that came.  Then I saw maple syrup that they had bought for me from a farm stand, so that came out too.  Thus this salad was formed. I found cucumber, green apple and mint too while I was poking around so I figured it could go in too. Next stop was the pantry and out came chili flakes and red onions……all the makings of a great salad, if I say so myself !!!

 I know this is the time when I give you the spiel about what you can use and you cant and where the ingredients come from and all that……..but today I have decided that other than one caveat ,I am not going to do any of that. What is that one point ??? Use maple syrup and not any of corn syrup based brown …”things” you find at the supermarket !!! Yes, I am a food snob and not ashamed of it !! Back to my point, I prefer the medium amber ones…taste a few and figure out your favorite.

 Mrs. T and Mrs. P loved it, I am glad to say. Its one thing to serve your creations to your family but whole another ball game when you are feeding someone else !!!  I loved it too…..crisp, refreshing, light. Tangy, crunchy green apples, crisp cucumber, chewy & sweet cranberries, refreshing mint, crunchy almonds all bathed in a maple dressing that has a slight hint of heat from chili flakes. I am sure I am going to be making this one very often as spring and summer approach !!!

 There is a saying in India, which essentially means that after a mother and a father, a teacher helps mold a child and mine are in excellent hands. So Mrs. P and Mrs. T…..thank you for all that you do. 

Orzo Salad


2 cups uncooked orzo pasta

¼cup finely chopped Mint

¼cup finely diced Red Onion

½cup peeled, diced English Cucumber

½cup dried Cranberries

¼cup Slivered Almonds

1 large Green Apple, cored and diced


¼cup Apple Cider/ Red Wine Vinegar

3- 3 ½tbsp. grade A medium amber Maple Syrup

½tsp. Chili Flakes

½tsp. Salt

½tsp. Black Pepper

¼cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cook the orzo in plenty of salted boiling water as you would pasta. Cook it till al dente.

Drain and cool.

Add in the apples, cucumber, red onion, cranberries, mint and almonds.

For the dressing, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, chili flakes, salt and pepper.

Whisk in the olive oil.

Toss the salad with the dressing and set aside, so that the flavors are absorbed.

Serve at room temperature.

This is off to No Croutons Required at Food and Spice , also to the Food of the World – Italy at the East West Realm.

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