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Garden Tomato Orzo Salad

A veggie garden can be a forgiving place. For all its perceived delicateness and dependency on water and attention, it can also be remarkably resilient when ignored. Which is wonderful because sometimes life gets in the way, doesn't it. There's no doubt picnics in the park and trips to the beach get front billing during a little kid summer. Throw in trips to the library and our favourite museum and sometimes the backyard veggie patch can go a few days without a single watchful eye or attentive green thumb to care for it. But whenever this happens I marvel at the difference a few days makes and the progress that can come from simple sunshine, healthy soil and being left alone to stretch out in the warm summer afternoons. Tomatoes that were just starting to blush are now bursting with tender ripe redness and zucchinis that were small the last time I glanced their way now look like something you could hit a baseball with. Yes, the garden is a forgiving place. Like an old friend, we pick up where we left off except we've both done a little growing.
This delicious orzo salad is made with one of the garden's finest treasures: juicy ripe tomatoes. Tossed with fresh tender herbs, salty feta and a simple red wine vinaigrette, it dresses up grilled steaks, sausages, chicken or even burgers and dogs. Make ahead and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Garden Tomato Orzo Salad (with feta and fresh herbs)
Makes 6-8 side servings

2 cups (500 mL) dried orzo pasta
2 cups (500 mL) halved or quartered cherry/grape tomatoes (about 1 inch pieces)
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped tender herbs such as dill, basil, cilantro or parsley
2/3 cup (150 mL) crumbled or cubed feta
1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil
3 tbsp (50 mL) red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) prepared Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) liquid honey

Boil the orzo in salted water for 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool running water. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the cooked orzo, tomatoes, herbs and feta. In a container with a lid, shake together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, Dijon and honey. Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo salad, saving a little in the container. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Toss with the reserved vinaigrette before serving.

What do you love to make with fresh garden tomatoes?