Orzo, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Salad

Orzo and Goat Cheese Salad

Confession: If I could live on a boat, I would. Growing up in Michigan, surrounded by water, I would try to spend as much time out on our boat as possible. When my parents were at work during the summer, I would take the boat out by myself, anchor in my favorite spot, and just spend the hours soaking up the sun, listening to music, or reading. The waves, the breeze, the smell of the water…all of it was, and still is, so soothing to me.

What’s not soothing are swans. Yes, swans and I are not friends. We have a long and colorful history of being at odds with each other. I don’t know what it is but for all I know I think they are out to get me.

Take for example this one time I took the boat out during the summer when I came home from college. After I anchored, I decided to tie our inflatable chair to the back of the boat and float around for a little bit to cool down in the water and relax. Life was good…

…and then an hour later I awoke to a hissing alarm clock. Not realizing that I fell asleep and too terrified to see what was hissing at me, I slowly opened one eye (at this point I was hoping it was all just a dream) and there I saw it. It was a swan. I was face to face with a swan. A hissing swan. I turned to my left and noticed another swan quickly approaching me. I was slowly being surrounded. Terrifying.

Desperately wanting to run on water, I quickly grabbed the rope and began pulling myself to the swim platform. With a quick glance around my shoulder, I saw that the swan was gaining speed…and still hissing. Thankfully, I reached the boat in no time at all, jumped from the chair to the boat in all of two seconds, and found myself doing what one would call a touchdown dance. How incredibly embarrassing yet all so satisfying at the same time. I escaped the big, nasty swan in one piece. Yeah, you think they are all pretty until they surround you and show you their true colors. Not cool, swans. Not cool at all.

To this day, I will most likely never be found floating on an inflatable chair attached to a boat with nobody else near me for fear that I might fall asleep only to have another encounter with my lovely swan friends. But, you will find me out on a boat whatever chance I can get. Like this past summer when we spent every chance we could get on boats in Michigan and on Lake Anna in Virginia. And yes, whenever we saw swans while boating, my loving husband never hesitated to say, “Hey Jen, the swans are coming to get you!”

After a day spent out on the water, fending off swans or what have you, this is the perfect salad to enjoy. I know because we devoured this salad time and time again at the lake house. If you pulled the boat for the year, go ahead and make this salad anyway. It’s the perfect side dish to any grilled meat. It’s also a flavorful dish to enjoy for lunch while reminiscing your summer days.

Orzo, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Salad


  • 1 1/4 cups uncooked orzo
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed arugula or 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach and spring mix salad
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons dried basil (to taste)
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite Italian dressing
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 6 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. 
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss to incorporate.
Note: The orzo, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, basil, oregano, dressing, salt, and pepper can be combined ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When you are ready to serve the dish, toss in the arugula and goat cheese to keep the salad fresh and vibrant.

What is your favorite side salad?

*Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light 

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  1. I bike past a couple of swans every day on my way to work and they're total jerks! This salad looks amazing. I love orzo, and tossing it with greens and goat cheese is such a great way to have it. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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