Appetizers, What's New on Lulu's Table?

Orzo Salad

bowl of orzo salad on white wooden table

 

Looking back…I’m pretty sure that I grew up on this stuff.  Well this, cheese, and chicken taquitos.  

I have to sing my mom’s praise here though, because not only did she get my sister and I hooked on this as kids, but she would make my roommates and I a big batch whenever she came to visit me at college!  I would literally have to fight off my friends in order to get more than one serving (yes I am talking to you Jesse).

 

orzo salad on white wood table

 

So needless to say, this dish makes a regular appearance here at the Corna household.  Especially during warm weather months when there is fresh basil galore!

Not going to lie…this is one of my all time favorite dishes to make AND eat (more-so eat).  Here’s why I love this Orzo salad…

  1. it’s healthy
  2. all the veggies make it fun and colorful, with a ton of flavor
  3. it’s super simple to make
  4. it’s light, but you feel like you’re eating substance (which is especially nice for tailgating)
  5. won’t make you have to unbutton your jeans

I make my own vinaigrette that I mix in before serving, and I love using Banza Rice to make this a healthier gluten free orzo salad!  One bag of Banza Rice, mixed with all the veggies, will be enough for 4-6 people…but I would definitely recommend erring on the side of overdoing it because the leftovers are just as good!

 

orzo salad with wooden spoon and balsamic dressing

 

This is typically my go-to when we are headed to a friend’s house, or I need something quick to make for last minute house guests.  It’s always a crowd pleaser and the best part is that you have the ability to craft it the way you like!  Add in whatever veggies you think sound yummy, or add rotisserie chicken to make this a main meal instead of a side dish.

Tip for adding more color: use different colored bell peppers!  One bell pepper is only required for each batch, so I like to use half an orange, and half a yellow pepper to add more color.

Can’t find Banza Rice at your local store?  Click below to get a couple bags sent to your home!  The plain Banza Rice goes quickly, but there is a tri-color rice that is just as delicious!  Check which ones are in stock through the link below…

 

 

bowl of orzo salad on white wood table

 

 

Orzo Salad

A healthy Orzo Salad filled with fresh veggies, basil, feta cheese, and homemade vinaigarette. Vegetarian and gluten free appetizer.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: basil, feta, gluten free, healthy, orzo, salad
Servings: 4 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion diced
  • 1 cup asparagus chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1 8 oz bag Banza Rice cooked
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup almond slices

Balsamic Vinegairette

  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Cook Banza Rice according to package instructions, rinse, and set in a large mixing bowl.
  • Blanch asparagus by cooking in boiling water for 1 min. Remove, rinse, and add to rice mixture.
  • Chop remaining veggies and mix in with rice. Stir in feta cheese and almond slices.
  • Mix together all ingredients for dressing and then stir into orzo salad right before serving.
Meat

Mexi Steak Salad

mexican salad in large wooden bowl with avocado cilantro dressing

 

Truth be told, if I wasn’t so blatantly Irish, I would probably assume I’m of Mexican descent. ‘Cause daaaaaaamnnnn do I love to make some Mexican food.  What I love about Mexican cuisine is that the ingredients are always so fresh, colorful, flavorful…and oh my lord CILANTRO.

Let’s just get this out of the way now…I.LOVE.CILANTRO.  I know there’s some weird genetic thing that you either have the cilantro-loving gene, or you think it tastes like soap.  Well…my deepest condolences for all those aboard the cilantro soap train, because this herb tastes like magic!

 

mexican steak salad in wooden bowl with belle peppers on white table

 

Now with that being said, I’m sure it comes to no surprise that this delicious Mexican Salad is topped with a cilantro-avocado dressing!  I’m a huge fan of making my own dressings so I know exactly what’s in it.  That way, nothing unwanted sneaks into my meal (like added sugars, inflammatory oils, or unnatural chemicals).  Make in small batches, so not to waste any, because natural ingredients tend to be more perishable.

What’s great about this salad is that it uses simple ingredients and requires little hands on time from you!  There are three main areas of focus, veggies, steak, and dressing.  Everything else just needs to be dumped on at the end!

 

mexican salad in wooden bowl with mini bell peppers and lime on white table

 

VEGGIES:

  • I use different colored mini bell peppers and a red onion, cut thinly with a mandoline
  • Coat in oil and spices…I’m a huge fan of using paprika and garlic on my mexi veggies

STEAK:

  • Marinate your top sirloin in oil and garlic cloves for as long as you can.  I’ve done up to 24 hrs before.
  • Grill until cooked to your desired temperature, or cook on stove top over medium heat (high heat will burn the outside while leaving the inside uncooked).

DRESSING:

  • Take all fresh ingredients and add to a blender.  Blend until well combined!
  • Avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime, oil, and spices.

Chop your romaine lettuce, rinse a can of black beans, and as always…add a little somethin’ somethin’ for the CRUNCH!  Feel free to have fun with this and mix up the ingredients as you please!  Adding some cheese, quinoa, or different veggies can definitely add a fun twist to this Mexi Steak Salad 🙂

 

mexican steak salad with avocado cilantro dressing in large wooden bowl on white table

 

Mexi Steak Salad

Mexican sirloin steak salad filled with seasoned veggies, black beans, crunchy tortillas, and topped with a homemade avocado cilantro dressing.  A healthy, easy, and gluten free dinner recipe!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: avocado, cilantro, dinner, dressing, fajita, gluten free, healthy, mexican, salad, steak
Servings: 4 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1-1.5 lbs top sirloin steak free range or organic
  • 4 tbsp EVOO or avocado oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 cup mini bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 15 oz can black beans rinsed

Dressing

  • 1 avocado
  • 3/4 cup EVOO or avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime juice
  • 1 whole bunch of cilantro remove leaves from stems
  • 1 cup crushed gluten free chips I use Food Should Taste Good Gluten Free Multigrain Tortilla Chip

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsp oil and chopped garlic.  Using a brush or spoon, rub garlic oil on front and back of steak.  Wrap in tinfoil and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  • Using a mandoline, thinly slice mini bell peppers (hold from top at the stem and start slicing from bottom), and red onion.
  • Take sliced veggies and dump into a broil safe baking dish.  Mix in 2 tbsp oil, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Broil for 20 min, mixing midway through.
  • While veggies are baking, grill steak to your desired temp, or cook on stovetop.  For a medium steak, cook on medium heat for approximately 5-6 min each side.
  • For dressing, add all ingredients to a blender and blend until all ingredients are combined well.
  • Rinse and chop romaine lettuce and place in large serving bowl.  Take a can of black beans and rinse.  You can leave as is, or heat up on a skillet with oil.
  • Once steak is finished cooking, cut into thin slices and lay on top of romaine. Top romaine with remaining ingredients...veggies, beans, and crushed chips.  
  • Drizzle dressing on top and serve!
Vegetarian Meals

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

pasta salad in stone colored bowl, on white table with basil and sun-dried tomatoes

 

 

Need a quick side dish for your next dinner party?!  Look no further my friends!  The longest part of making this pasta salad is just waiting for the pasta to cook ( and if you like your pasta al dente, then you don’t even have to wait the full time on that)!

I love this pasta salad, because the dressing and mediterranean veggies give this it a fresh and light flavor.  Although this recipe doesn’t call for cheese, don’t be afraid to add some goat or feta cheese if you really want to take it to the next level!

In order to make the best use of your time, chop veggies and prepare the dressing while pasta is cooking.  Dump all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and then stir in dressing right before serving (to avoid getting everything too soggy).

 

Mediterranean pasta salad in stone colored bowl, topped with grilled artichoke hearts

 

For me…nothing beats fresh chopped basil (cue romantic background music).  Sun-dried tomatoes add a deep savory flavor, while grilled artichoke hearts give it an awesome salty and smoky flavor.  Add any sort of nut for crunch (a good crunch in any dish is a totally underrated quality) and call it a day!

The dressing is super easy, just a combination of 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, mixed with 1 part balsamic vinegar, along with dried Italian spices.  If you’re feeling really fancy and have lemons on deck…don’t be afraid to throw some of that in too!

I think the best thing about this dish is that it looks super fancy, but really only requires you to have the right ingredients on hand, that can then be dumped in a bowl and mixed together.  Give it a try, you guys will love it!

 

close up picture of large bowl filled with mediterranean pasta salad

 

 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Gluten free pasta filled with basil, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and onion!  Mixed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette and packed with vitamins, flavor, and healthy oils!
Prep Time13 mins
Cook Time7 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: appetizer, artichoke, basil, mediterranean, pasta salad, sundried tomato
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 bag or individual box, Banza GF Pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp red onion chopped
  • 3 halves marinated artichokes pulled from stem and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper each

Instructions

  • Cook pasta on stove top until soft, then rinse under cool water.
  • Transfer pasta to large bowl.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Add goat cheese or feta for added flavor!