DancerEats – Mediterranean Salad

Decided to start a new category of dance posts: DancerEats!

I anticipate that these posts will generally fall into one of two categories: I-Am-A-Dancer-My-Body-Is-A-Temple and I-Am-A-Dancer-Therefore-I-Can-Justify-Consuming-[Dessert-Booze-Grease-Etc.]. I strive for balance in my life. This is the line I choose to balance on.

So, the first of these — surprisingly, for me — falls into the former category. Rare, but hey, I can start off giving you the impression that I’m all healthy and stuff (I am a nurse, gotta portray some sort of decorum). Just don’t be surprised when I start rambling on about fudge and cookies and ice cream.

Being A) single and B) in dance class a few nights a week, I’m not a big dinner-maker. I’ve been known to call a beer and a bowl of popcorn dinner. Hey, it happens. But one thing I do enjoy is making a large dish that will last a few meals, particularly if it’s delish. Nothing better than knowing there’s something yummy already made waiting for you.

Today, I present you with Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Feta Vinaigrette.

I found this one on the Cooking Light website. Love Cooking Light. Surprising… because I refuse to eat any sort of artificial sweetener (including “natural” artificial sweetener), artificial butter-like substances, artificial meat products. I’d rather do without than eat that crap (no offense if you indulge in that stuff…). But this magazine is remarkably talented at providing recipes that are “healthier” (sometimes I have my doubts) but still made with real food and actually delicious.

This one plays right into my love of Mediterranean food. I may be of northern European heritage, but Greek and Italian food makes me drool. Olives. Feta. Artichoke hearts. Pasta. Yummmm.

The combo in this salad is delish. Got the orzo for pasta yumminess (could easily be made with other pastas, but the rice-like shape of the orzo mixes nicely with the other ingredients). The veggies provide an excellent balance of sweet (sun-dried tomatoes), salty (Kalamata olives), zing (red onion), and butteriness (artichoke hearts) while the spinach gives it some substance. I loved the idea of using the artichoke marinade as the dressing. Makes it simple and adds flavor without overpowering the individual ingredients. And feta. Mmm… cheese.

If you were looking for an additional protein boost you could easily add in some chopped marinated grilled chicken (or steak). But even without this still clocks in at nearly 12 grams of protein per serving… and only 340 calories or so and over 5 grams of fiber. Not bad for a side (or, if you’re me, a meal… I’m a nosher). As a dancer, I also worry about how things will sit with my stomach if I eat this before class. Tomato products aren’t always the best for me, but with the sweetness and concentrated flavor of the sundried tomatoes, this one wouldn’t likely cause a problem. The seasoning is also mild enough to not cause gastric issues during barre!

This meal will keep for a couple days assuming you’ve used fresh ingredients. If you had concerns, you could mix it up without the spinach and just add at the time of the meal, but I find spinach holds up better in prepared salads than lettuces and such. Also, I would recommend saving the step of reserving part of the feta to sprinkle over top of the servings. I mixed it all right in. Even if you were serving this for a real Dinner (as opposed to my tossed-around-in-the-lunch-bag meal) I don’t think it would necessarily add much to the presentation. Save yourself the pain of washing another measuring cup.

Looking forward to tossing some of my foodiness into my blog. Hope you enjoy! Until next time.


2 thoughts on “DancerEats – Mediterranean Salad

  1. Dear Rori, you had me laughing out loud and knodding my head vigorously at the same time! I happen to live by the same principle – must treat dancer body with respect but can get away with daily desserts 🙂

    There are even more similarities.. Though I’m not a nurse (my dad is), but I am A) and B). Plus I do live in Northern Europe. And I happen to love mediterranean food! Last week I discovered that red pesto and artichokes make a yummy pasta sauce.. Thanks for sharing your recipe and I’ll look forward to the desserts too!

  2. Nellie Dean says:

    I am now incredibly hungry…

    …and surely one of the greatest things about being a grown up is that beer and popcorn classifies as dinner, non? Or, in my case, half a packet of biscuits 😉

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