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This salad recipe is from “Aunt” Laura.

1 pound orzo pasta
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus another 1/4 cup
2 cups fresh arugula, about 3 ounces (I usually use more than that, maybe 3 or 4 cups, and I use baby spinach or even a spring mix, whatever I have or is easy to find)
3/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (I use feta cheese)
1/2 cup dried cherries (I just use craisins and I always put in more than a half cup more like a whole cup)
12 fresh basil leaves, cut up small
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I used walnuts, but I’ve used pine nuts
before too, and I usually just dump them in until I think there is
enough, so probably more than 1/4 c.)
4Tbs Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Bring a large pot of salted (must be generously salted) water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Drain water. Add 2 tbs of olive oil and mix. Then spread out on a large cookie sheet to cool.

In small bowl whisk remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together.

I usually make this salad in the morning, and add the orzo, half of the lemon dressing mix, the craisins, basil, mix it all. Then I chop up the nuts, feta and spinach and put them on the top but don’t stir them in. Before serving I stir in the rest of the ingredients and add the rest of the dressing. I do it like this because the craisins kind of soak up some of the dressing and get plump and the basil kind of flavors everything but I don’t want the spinach and walnuts getting soggy.

THEN, I usually add a couple of spoonfuls of my Balsamic BBQ sauce, but if you don’t add it the salad is still good.

*** We usually have this along with BBQ Chicken or Steak that I use a Balsamic BBQ sauce on, and most of the time I put some of the sauce from the meat on the salad. The salad I brought to your house had probably 3 Tbs of this sauce on it.  I think the salad tastes better with it, but it’s really good without it too.