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Growing up in a Filipino household meant that we had rice in the rice cooker almost always. There were few meals served that didn’t include rice. These days, I don’t always want to have rice at every meal. When it came to making a side dish that wasn’t rice, I was left on my own to come up with recipes. Most of the time, it was through cookbooks and magazines. Sometimes, it was through experimentation from side dishes that I had elsewhere. This is one of them: Tomato and Basil Orzo Salad. I had this at reception I was at and loved it. I usually serve this up with grilled steak or chicken. It’s a wonderful summer salad. And, while the recipe calls for adding cheese after you toss, I serve the cheese on the side so people can put as little or as much as they please. Tastes even better when you let the flavors chill and meld overnight. Enjoy.


  • 1 cup Orzo
  • 1 pound heirloom mini tomatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinagrette
  • 1/4 cup parmesan / romano cheese blend, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil water for orzo. Cook orzo for 8-10 minutes until al dente. In a large bow, mix tomatoes and basil. Add garlic and vinagrette. Toss gently. Drain and rinse orzo. Add to tomato mixture. Add cheese. Toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.