This is a riff on the Marks & Spencer orzo pasta & roasted tomato salad that I had last time I was in London. I’m usually so excited to be able to shop at a English grocery store that I skip going to a restaurant and instead eat all of the things we miss when we’re in Denmark. I usually make a beeline for the Walker’s salt & vinegar crisps, Quorn savory eggs, Branston Pickle (which I can literally eat with a spoon), sharp cheddar, and an assortment of Mr. Kipling cakes, but if I’m staying near a Marks & Spencer, I’m definitely sampling their salads.
I’ve looked high and low for the Marks & Spencer orzo pasta salad recipe, but I came up empty handed. Fortunately, Marks & Spencer includes an ingredients list on their salads, so it’s relatively easy to decode and successfully reproduce them.
Whether you’ve found Sage & Simple because you were also looking for the Marks & Spencer orzo pasta salad recipe, or you have no idea what Marks & Spencer is, but love a good Mediterranean-inspired pasta salad recipe, I hope you’ll enjoy my recipe as much as I do here in Aarhus :)
Inspired By Marks & Spencer Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe
250 g orzo pasta (about 1 cup)
1 roasted red pepper (jarred) + 1 T liquid from the jar
6 sun-dried tomato halves (jarred) + 1 T oil from the jar
2 T tomato paste
2 T balsamic or red wine vinegar
½ of a small red onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, pressed
pinch of oregano
fresh basil leaves
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the orzo and cook for 8-10 minutes or until it’s al dente, then strain it. The original version of the Marks & Spencer orzo pasta salad recipe cooks the pasta in tumeric-infused water to give it color, but I didn’t see the point, so I skipped that bit. If you’d like a more colorful dish, add a teaspoon or two of tumeric to the pasta as it cooks.
Add the roasted red pepper and its liquid, the sun-dried tomatoes and the oil, tomato paste, vinegar, red onion, garlic, oregano, and 6-8 basil leaves to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse until it’s pureed, then add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.
Mix the dressing into the cooked orzo and top it with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, torn basil leaves, and crumbled feta. Mix it before serving, it tastes best at room temperature.
For added texture, you can stir in some chopped red peppers and red onions, but for me, this is a “keep it simple dish” that I can throw together with stuff I usually have on-hand. Fresh red peppers aren’t one of those things, but fresh basil plants are everywhere for about $1.50 (10 kr.), so they’re kind of a staple.
The original version of the Marks & Spencer orzo pasta salad recipe uses red wine vinegar, but I prefer the complementary flavors of the balsamic vinegar with the sun-dried tomatoes. In my first attempt at this recipe (and when I had the M&S version on London), I felt like something was missing, so I added the feta. It’s perfectly fine without it, so feel free to omit it, making this a vegan recipe :)