Mint-Basil Orzo Pasta Salad with Speck and Pan Seared Grapes

A few weeks ago I came across this beautiful salad on Dolly + Oatmeal and knew I had to try it.  I wanted to enjoy this as a stand-alone meal for dinner, so I added a some orzo pasta and speck to round it out.  Garnish with a little cheese and this delicious salad covers all the food groups!

The smoky speck added such an interesting balance to the sweet grapes and bright dressing.  However, if you’re not big on smoked meats, feel free to substitute with prosciutto for a more mild and buttery taste.  If you want to make this dish vegetarian, replace the speck with rice paper bacon!

Mint-Basil Citrus Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons packed mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons packed basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ponzu sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the herbs are roughly chopped and liquids are mixed.  Pour into a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mint-Basil Orzo Pasta Salad with Pan Seared Grapes (adapted from Dolly + Oatmeal)

  • 1-2 chopped slices speck
  • 2 cups salad greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked orzo pasta
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tablespoons mint-basil citrus dressing
  • 1/2 cup champagne grapes
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper

Heat a frying pan over medium heat; add the speck, garlic and pine nuts.  Stir until the pine nuts have lightly toasted and then add the grapes, continue stirring until the grapes are warm and fragrant.  Discard the garlic, stir in the parsley and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.  In a large bowl, combine the kale, orzo and scallions in the citrus dressing and toss to evenly coat.  Top with the seared grapes and pine nuts.  Garnish with additional fresh mint and enjoy!

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