Black Bean and Orzo Salad

We've been featuring SimplyCooking® recipes that use winter pantry staples and here is one more for your everyday recipe repertoire.  Black Bean and Orzo Salad is a nice side dish or an entree in itself.  The flavors combine wonderfully, making it taste like much more than the very simple recipe it is.  Some of the best food I've ever had was so simply prepared.  I admire chefs, and home cooks alike, who chose impeccable ingredients and bring out their best, combining flavors in imaginative ways with simple preparation.

One restaurant concept I've been following is True Food Kitchen in Phoenix.  Their motto resonates to some degree with that of the SimplyCooking® concept:  "Globally inspired cuisine that nourishes the body, mind & spirit."  I've not been to the restaurant but do have menus and brochures thanks to my husband who traveled to Phoenix on business last week.  I begged him to please stop by and visit the restaurant I've been reading about and been so intrigued by.  He'd have to eat somewhere, why not there?  Not easily impressed by restaurants, he texted me from the site, (even after a $50 cab ride) "This is  truly cool!"  The menu offerings are limited but interesting. They focus on the ingredients and not the method of preparation like so many restaurants do, especially high end ones.  I  suppose some restaurants have to justify the price by describing all the work the dish was to make.  Not at True Food Kitchen.  Here the menu is straight forward.  For $22 you can get "Diver Scallops, Black Rice, Lotus Root, Leeks & Ponzu."  Hum.  Lotus Root and Ponzu I've never heard of but would be willing to try; the same with Seared BronziniUmami Sauce, Anasazi Beans and Cotija Cheese.  Exotic ingredients are indeed on the menu.  But I was happy to see how many basic ingredients and simple applications are featured along side the exotic.  Many of these items are in the SimplyCooking® Pantry, or in our collection of recipes and meals:  Pasta with fresh ginger; Pasta with Olives, Capers and Tomatoes; Onion Tart; Dipping Sauces; Greek Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette; a Frittata; and Brown Rice with Vegetables.

Black Bean and Orzo Salad does use canned tomatoes and canned beans, so it may not qualify for the True Food Kitchen menu.   But, its preparation is simple and straightforward, the dressing made fresh, the flavors wonderful and the overall taste fresh and light, which makes Black Bean and Orzo Salad qualify as true food in my kitchen.

black bean and orzo salad

4 cups cooked orzo pasta
1 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onions, or scallions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 - 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes


2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
 1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss; set aside.  In a small bowl combine red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk while adding the olive oil slowly in a steady stream until well combined.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.  Chill until ready to serve.  Serve on lettuce leaves.