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Hi, I'm Judy Mayer

Eating doesn’t have to be so hard, but for many confusion exists about what’s healthy and what’s not. Bombarded with so much information — much of it in the form of silver bullets and easy answers — people often don’t know where to turn...
Judy Mayer

A Pasta Salad for Memorial Day Picnics

What's For Dinner
Timely advice, tasty tips and a little tough love from Outpost's resident nutritionist, Judy Mayer. By Judy Mayer on May 25, 2012


It’s time to start thinking about your menu for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day typically represents the traditional start of the summer outdoor party season. Tangy coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad and burgers on the grill are the usual fare.


My family isn’t fond of potato salad but we do appreciate pasta salads. This Spinach and Orzo Salad is delicious and a good way to sneak spinach and whole grains into your day.


Orzo is a type of pasta which is made in the shape of a grain of rice, although the word orzo is Italian for barley.Especially popular in Greece and other Mediterranean countries, this versatile pasta is available in veggie and whole grain varieties. I always recommend the whole grain!


Spinach and Orzo Salad

Serves 6

8 ounces whole grain orzo

1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted

4 ounces baby spinach

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped

½ cup red onion, chopped

½ cup red bell pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the orzo pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

  2. Toast the nuts by heating a small skillet on medium heat. Add the nuts and stir occasionally until the nuts are fragrant and just lightly browned. Quickly remove from heat.

  3. Take half of the spinach and puree it in a food processor or blender with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Roughly chop the other half of the spinach.

  4. In a large bowl combine the spinach puree mixture in with the cooked orzo. Gently mix in the remaining spinach, feta, kalamata olives, onion and red pepper.

  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and basil. Pour over orzo mixture and gently mix until well combined. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Per serving:  307 calories, 17g fat, 4g sat fat, 32g carbohydrates, 10g protein, 386mg sodium,

4g fiber, 120mg calcium


No need to add any salt to this recipe – the feta cheese and kalamata olives are salty enough! Rinsing and soaking the olives in cold water for a short time will also reduce their sodium content.


Please be safe and have a great holiday weekend.


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