Orzo Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

Orzo Salad

Figs are wonderful this time of year, fresh or dried. This light and delicious salad has a subtle fig flavor in the fig balsamic vinaigrette that sweetly balances the hearty kale and chickpeas. The cashew cheese tossed in the salad gives a delicious savory bite.And fresh herbs from the garden add a fragrant herbaceous undertone.

Serves 4-6
For the orzo:
1 cup orzo
1 quart of water

Bring the water to a boil and add the orzo. Cook for 9 minutes, until tender. Rinse and set aside.

For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette:
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
5 dried figs, soaked in water for 15 minutes
1 Tablespoon mustard (prepared)
1 teaspoons salt

Blend until smooth. Add some of the soak water from the figs to the blender if necessary to help it blend smoothly.

For the salad:
2 cups cooked orzo
2 cups kale, cut in a chiffonade
2 cups cooked garbanzos, canned are ok
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup red grapes, halved
1/4 cup red cabbage shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cashew cheese (optional, see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350. Toss the grapes with olive oil and salt and roast for 5-10 minutes or until browned. Be sure to check them regularly so they don’t burn.

Toss all the ingredients except the cashew cheese with the fig dressing as heavily as desired. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with little spoonfuls of the cashew cheese and fresh basil.

For the cashew cheese:
1 cup cashew nuts, soaked overnight
1/8 cup rosemary, chopped (optional)
1/8 cup basil, chopped (optional)
1/8 cup chives, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 Teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
1/4 cup water, to aid in blending to the right consistency

Blend everything together in the food processor or blender until smooth.Orzo Salad

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