John Sierp's Warm Orzo Salad with Spinach-Cashew Pesto and Greek Lamb Meatballs
This recipe is part of Rachael's "5-Alarm Cook-Off."
- For the meatballs:
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 1/4 pound ground beef (80/20 mix or fattier)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups feta cheese, grated
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs soaked in milk
- 1/4 cup roasted garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 sage leaves, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the pesto:
- 1 large bunch baby spinach, cleaned and stems removed
- 20 basil leaves
- 1/4 cup roasted cashews
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 sun-dried tomatoes (preferably from a jar and packed in oil)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- For the orzo:
- 1 pound orzo
- 4 quarts chicken stock
- 1/2 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved (depending on size)
- 1/2 cup orange heirloom tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed
- 1/2 cup purple heirloom tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed
- 1/4 cup roasted garlic oil
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Juice of 1 lemon with zest
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut on half longways
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound feta cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375ºF
Combine all ingredients for the meatballs and roll into balls. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
For the pesto, combine first 7 items in food processor and lightly pulse to break up the ingredients. Slowly add olive oil in a drizzle and pulse until pesto consistency. Set aside in squeeze bottle.
Cook orzo according to package directions, set aside.
Sauté tomatoes with sage in garlic oil for a couple of minutes to warm through. Add parsley, lemon zest and juice, olives, salt and pepper to taste.
Finish with grated feta and sage on top.
To serve, plate orzo in the middle of a platter and arrange meatballs around it. Garnish with pesto and grated feta cheese.
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