One of the lightest pasta salads you'll ever taste; it's especially good in the summer alongside grilled fish
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup very finely diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup very finely diced seedless cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (about 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
1. Stir together the olive oil, shallots, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Cook the orzo in a large kettle of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta completely in a colander, running under cold water. Transfer orzo to a bowl, stir in the olive oil mixture, and let cool. Stir in the bell pepper, cucumber, ricotta salata, and mint until combined well. You could serve the salad immediately, but we think it tastes best if you let it stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
Orzo is a tiny form of pasta that resembles rice. Traditionally used in soups and as a Greek side dish, orzo is light and delicious in pasta salads. Ricotta salata is a firm, salted cheese made from sheep's milk with a texture similar to feta (which you could substitute); it's available at Dean & DeLuca and most Italian specialty food shops. This is one of the lightest pasta salads you'll ever taste; it's especially good in the summer alongside grilled Fish. Serves 4 to 6