Tomato and Black Olive Orzo Salad

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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2 cups grape tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 pound large orzo pasta

1/4 cup crumbled feta 

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 

1 clove garlic, smashed 

1 tablespoon finely sliced fresh basil 

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, torn 

1 teaspoon sugar 

1 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped 

1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed 

1 roasted red pepper, finely sliced 

1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers, stems removed 

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Serving suggestion: Mediterranean Sardines with Lemon and Garlic, recipe follows

Spicy Tartar:

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons finely diced pickles

2 tablespoons finely diced pickled sweet red pepper

1 tablespoon minced red onion

1 tablespoon minced brined capers

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

3 dashes hot sauce

Pinch cayenne

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


8 whole large, fresh sardines, cleaned but with head and tail intact

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 sprigs fresh thyme

8 sprigs fresh oregano

1 lemon, cut into thin wheels

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the tomatoes on a sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are tender and just bursting slightly but not falling apart, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (following package instructions). While the pasta is cooking, make a vinaigrette by pouring the juice from the bottom of the pan the tomatoes cooked in into a mixing bowl. Add the feta, vinegar, mustard, garlic, sliced basil, oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly pour in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil while whisking to lightly emulsify. Drain the cooked pasta and toss with the vinaigrette. Add the grape tomatoes, olives, chickpeas, roasted red pepper, pepperoncini peppers, onion and chopped basil and toss to combine. 
  4. This is a great salad to serve with Mediterranean Sardines with Lemon and Garlic.


  1. For the spicy tartar: Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, pickles, red pepper, onion, capers, lemon juice, tarragon, chives, hot sauce and cayenne in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to come together.
  2. For the sardines: Preheat a grill to high. Rinse the sardines in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the cavity of each sardine with salt and pepper, then place a sprig of thyme and oregano inside each along with a few slices of lemon and garlic. Season outside with salt and pepper. Carefully tie the sardines with butchers twine to help keep them closed during grilling. Wipe down the grill grates with a towel dipped in oil to clean and create a non-stick surface. Carefully place sardines across grates and grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until skin blisters and chars around the edges. Using a spatula, carefully turn the sardines and grill for a further 2 to 3 minutes to cook through. When done, remove to a platter and keep warm until ready to serve. Serve the sardines slathered with the Spicy Tartar.