Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Butter Crisped Garbanzo Beans

Pasta salad is one of my go-tos for barbecues and family gatherings. I love that it can be made ahead of time, and served cold with no worries.

This recipe is a modern twist on the classic pasta dish, using popular Mediterranean flavors, orzo pasta and a creamy feta cheese. I’ve also figured out a secret way to keep the salad ingredients crunchy, even when made ahead. Enjoy!

Recipe

Creamy Feta Dressing

  1. 8 ounces Challenge Cream Cheese
  2. ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  3. ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  4. ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
  5. 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  6. salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Tomatoes

  1. 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  2. 2 cloves crushed garlic
  3. ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  4. ¼ cup olive oil
  5. salt and pepper to taste
  6. 2 tablespoons fresh oregano or basil, diced

Butter Crisped Garbanzo Beans

  1. 15.5 ounce can Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas) drained and rinsed
  2. 4 tablespoons Challenge Butter
  3. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, diced
  5. ½ teaspoon salt

Orzo and Toppings

  1. 16 ounces Orzo Pasta, cooked as directed on package
  2. 8 green onions, finely diced
  3. 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  4. 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  5. 1 cup marinated artichokes, diced
  6. 1 cup Kalamata olives, diced
  7. 1 cup diced Marcona almonds, diced
  8. 1 cup cucumber, diced

Directions

  1. 1

    Place Challenge Cream Cheese, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, feta and garlic in a bowl of a food processor. Pulse dressing until well combined and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  2. 2

    In a medium bowl, stir together balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Add tomatoes. Marinate tomatoes for at least 30 minutes before adding to salad.

  3. 3

    In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add butter and oil. Pat garbanzo beans dry with a paper towel. When butter and oil is hot, add beans. Cook until beans become crispy and brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Season with fresh rosemary and salt.

  4. 4

    To assemble salad, mix together prepared orzo with about half of your Creamy Feta Dressing, reserving the extra to serve on the side if desired. Stir in diced green onions and red bell pepper. Spread pasta into the bottom of a large serving platter. Arrange Balsamic Tomatoes, Butter Crisped Garbanzo Beans, feta cheese, artichokes, olives, almonds and cucumbers in a beautiful design or rows across the top of your pasta. Refrigerate until needed. Toss salad together before serving.

Add strips of grilled chicken or shrimp to create a great entrée.

Creates 16 servings when served as a side dish.

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