A few weeks ago we spent some time in Chicago visiting my family. In between some pretty indulgent meals (we finally got to the Girl & the Goat!), I did most of the cooking. At each meal, my mom and my sister would ask: “So is this recipe on the site?”
And, um, well, no. They never are… mostly because I find it liberating to cook in someone else’s kitchen with no camera in sight. There are no notes to be taken, and certainly no recipes to follow. I love digging through the fridge to see what’s there and what ingredients could potentially go together.
This mango & red pepper salad was especially refreshing for the heat wave that happened to be going on. Crunchy cucumbers, red onions, fresh herbs and sweet mango… summer was made for big juicy salads like this.
We served this next to some salmon but it’s plenty filling on it’s own – chickpeas and hearty whole wheat orzo make it a complete meal. This would be especially great for picnics and make-ahead lunches. (It’s one of those that actually tastes better the second day).
I topped this with feta when I made it for my family, but I’ve recreated it here to be vegan. It’s super flavorful from the herbs, spices and tahini… even Jack approved it without the cheese (but feel free to add some if you want to).
So mom, here’s the recipe! Or, a least, a similar version of it…
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 mango, cubed
- 1 small cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 a small red onion, diced
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- big handful of herbs: mint, basil, and/or cilantro
- 1/2 cup (uncooked) orzo
- small handful of arugula
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon (or 2-3 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon sherry or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons water
- salt & pepper
- To a large bowl add, chopped red pepper, mango, cucumber, red onion, minced garlic, chickpeas, and herbs. Season with salt & pepper and toss it all together.
- Cook orzo according to package directions (or about 9-12 minutes). Drain, gently rinse, toss with a little oil and set aside to cool to room temp before you add it to the salad.
- Make your dressing by stirring together the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, cumin, sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of water until it's a drizzle-able consistency.
- Toss the cooled orzo with the salad veggies and dressing. Add arugula and top with toasted pine nuts. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve a slightly bigger group by doubling the amount of orzo (and make extra dressing). This salad is also delicious with crumbled feta cheese on top.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days. It's a great make-ahead salad for lunch the next day.