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Quick Orzo Salad

‘You can whip this up in the blink of an eye, leaving you more time to fiddle around with a main dish to go with it,’ writes Ilaria Biuso in Shared Kitchen, Real Food From Scratch, a gorgeous cookbook created in collaboration with her mother Julie Biuso. ‘Whether that’s a succulent piece of lamb, a traybake of vegetables for an all-veg meal, or whatever else you fancy. Leftovers are great for the lunchbox — beef it up with crumbled feta and extra tomatoes for a light lunch.’

“Orzo is one of several small pastina (little pasta shapes) specifically designed to be served in light soups, or to amuse small children,” says Ilaria, pictured at right with her colourful dish.

“Risoni is similar in shape to orzo and can be used in the same way. Orzo takes its name from barley and is shaped like barley seeds. Orzo makes a good salad, too, and can be baked in a gratin or served with creamy vegetable or seafood sauces.

“Don't be over-generous with the salt in case the olives are salty. It's easier to add more in than take some out.”

INGREDIENTS:

200g (7oz) orzo pasta

Coarse sea or rock salt for cooking orzo

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

200g (7oz) cherry tomatoes

70g (2–3oz) black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tsp lemon juice

A few pinches of dried chilli flakes

Salt to taste

Freshly-ground black pepper to taste

2 tbsp finely-chopped parsley

METHOD:

• Cook orzo in a saucepan of boiling salted water as per the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and toss through 1 tablespoon of oil. Set aside.

• Cut tomatoes in half and gouge out and discard the seeds. Chop flesh coarsely and combine with olives.

• Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan (skillet) and sizzle up the garlic, tomatoes and olives. Heat through for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, so nothing catches — don't let the mixture fry.

• Add the orzo to the mix and toss everything together. Add the lemon  juice, chilli flakes, a quarter of a teaspoon of salt (or to taste) and pepper and mix thoroughly. Pop it all into a serving bowl, scatter over the parsley and serve immediately.

Voila! Easy as pie — or an orzo salad — as the saying goes.

Serves 4

Shared Kitchen by Julie & Ilaria Biuso Published by Bateman Books Photography by Manja Wachsmuth RRP: $39.99