Califonia Bountiful
Side Dish

Caprese orzo

"Flavor bomb" is Kristen De Groot-Vaz's two-word description for this versatile salad, which can go from side to main with the addition of a protein such as chopped, cooked chicken.

Kristen De Groot-Vaz
Farm Fresh Bowls, Visalia

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Pesto oil
1 cup olive and avocado oil blend (see note)
8 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tbsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. pepper

Caprese orzo
2 cups dry orzo pasta
1 to 2 tbsp. olive and avocado oil blend
1 cup peeled and diced cucumber
2 cups small, "ciliegine" mozzarella balls, cut in halves
2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
1 cup chiffonade basil


For pesto oil: Blend oil and garlic on medium speed in a food processor for 45 seconds or until garlic is minced. Add remaining ingredients and blend until combined.

For orzo: Cook orzo according to package directions for 10 minutes or until soft but chewy. Strain, add oil and toss. Spread orzo onto a sheet pan and let cool completely in refrigerator.

To serve: Combine orzo, cucumber, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil in a large bowl. Toss with
1 1/2 cups pesto oil.

Note: De Groot-Vaz blends equal parts avocado oil and olive oil for use in her restaurants and at home, citing the blend's health benefits and lower smoke point, which helps reduce bitterness when cooking at high temperatures.

Serves 4 to 6

Photo: © 2019 Tomas Ovalle

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