My husband is not a big potato lover and I usually make some sort of grain as a side dish. When it's just us, that's usually brown rice or quinoa. When we have company, I try to make something more interesting. I've made the orzo salad below for years and it was an adaptation of a Greek Rice salad that I've tweaked quite a bit. I recently started using whole wheat orzo but any type will do.
The lentil salad is a newer addition to my repertoire and it's a pretty informal recipe. The lentil salad comes together much quicker (especially if you use the already cooked brown lentils in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe's) but the orzo is not very laborious either. My favorite part about serving these both of these salads is the leftovers - they taste great the next day (and the next) and it's a great lunch to take to work.
Rosemary Lentil Salad serves 4
Mix 2 cups of cooked brown lentils with 1 T chopped rosemary, some chopped tomatoes (I used 1 cup of mini heirloom tomatoes, halved), 2 T (or more) chopped green onion (I've also used shallots). Stir in 1 T olive oil, and 2 T of red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Orzo Salad 6-8 side dish servings
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo
1 cup boiling water
3/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
6 cups baby spinach (about 6 oz)
1 T olive oil
8 oz. crumbled feta
1/4 c. chopped, pitted kalamata olives
3/4 c. marinated artichoke hearts (as is or you can chop them into smaller bites)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 T pine nuts, toasted
Cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain, and cool to room temperature and set aside. Combine boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl Let them stand until soft (15-30 minutes) and then drain, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Chop the spinach (like if you were making a chop salad). Stir the orzo, the spinach, the sun-dried tomato pieces, and all the other ingredients together in a big bowl. Save some pine nuts and feta to sprinkle over the top. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate it until you're ready to eat it.
Variation: Sometimes I saute the spinach leaves in olive oil and a little garlic until it's wilted and then stir it into the salad. The leftovers are a little slimy if you do it this way but it's good if you're going to eat it right away.