Recipe: Bacon & Spinach Orzo Salad

Recipe: Bacon & Spinach Orzo Salad

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Kelli Foster
May 28, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

I'll be honest with you: I like to be the person at a party who brings a dish that people can't stop talking about. There's a good chance you feel the same way. This recipe is here to help you embrace that feeling and make it your reality all summer long.

Inspired by classic pasta salad, it makes a couple simple changes that deliver a huge reward. Orzo takes the place of larger-shaped pasta, and once it's partnered with wilted spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and Asiago, the whole thing is gilded with a warm, sweet and tangy bacon vinaigrette.

Here's How to Make an Even Better Dressing for Your Orzo Salad

For a better dressing to make your orzo salad stand out, start with your skillet. You'll need it to cook up the crispy bacon, but that's not even the best part. The rendered bacon fat is whisked with a shallot, tangy white wine vinegar, and a spoonful of honey for a rich and flavorful, warm vinaigrette.

Treat the orzo just as you would when making pasta salad. Since it will soak up some of the dressing, it's important to cook it just until the point where it's not quite al dente, and still a touch firm. Even once it's drained, the combination of the residual heat and the warm dressing will continue to soften the grains, until they have just the right texture.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Bacon & Spinach Orzo Salad

Serves 6 to 8

  • 8 strips

    bacon (about 8 ounces)

  • 12 ounces

    dried orzo pasta (about 2 cups)

  • 8 ounces

    baby spinach (about 6 packed cups), coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 cup

    oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

  • 1 medium

    shallot, diced

  • 1/2 cup

    white wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 ounces

    Asiago cheese, diced

Place the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crispy, flipping halfway through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool, break the bacon into small crumbles. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the shallot to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper and whisk until emulsified.

Add the orzo to the water and cook until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and half of the dressing. Stir gently until the spinach is slightly wilted. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, add the bacon and cheese, and stir to combine. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Gently reheat before serving.

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