Eventually this cold, wet Spring will begin to warm (I hope). For now the best I can do is look forward to grilling and eating outside on a warm evening. Grilled makes me think of pasta salad and this recipe is near the top, if not at the top, of my favs list. The ingredients are basically what I put in my salad–feta, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and some balsamic. Then you toss some pasta in, which is never a bad thing, and violá. Delish!
Now’s a perfect time for a salad with dried cranberries too. The latest Dietary Guidelines have advised Americans to consume less than 10 percent of total calories per day from added sugars as a way to help them lower their intake of foods that contribute little, nutritionally speaking. However, they understand that there are some foods with a good deal of nutrition to offer, such as dried cranberries, that do contain added sugar. Cranberries are naturally very low in sugar as well as acidic, and to help make them edible as a dried fruit, a bit of sugar needs to be added. However, once sweetened, the total sugar of dried cranberries is comparable to other dried fruits, like raisins and dried cherries. The guidelines say that the American diet has room for nutrient dense foods with added sugars, as long as calories from added sugars do not exceed 10 percent per day. So including a serving of dried cranberries can help you reap the benefits of the powerful little cranberry without fear that you’re going overboard on your sugar.
- 8 ounces uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 to 3 tablespoons red onion, minced
- 3-6 ounces baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
- 1/4 pound crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. While pasta is cooking, place red onions in a bowl of cold water to and let sit (this will help mellow some of the raw onion flavor) Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, feta, and nuts. Drain onions and stir into mixture. Toss with dressing. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold.