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Food & Wine,Wine,Winery

My Favorite Orzo Rice Salad with a Charles Creek Kitchen Currant Flavored Balsamic Vinegar

I was very lucky to have access to some fabulous Balsamic vinegars from Charles Creek Kitchen, which is located in the town of Sonoma.

I’ve written earlier about their Blueberry Flavored Balsamic Vinegar. I said then, and continue to remember, how it rocked my palate.

Bill Brinton, proprietor of Charles Creek Vineyards, just isn’t one to sit still. I met him in 2002, when he was launching his first vintage of Merlot. At that time, he was just branching out into having his first vintage of Los Patolitas Chardonnay. Seven years later, you need to visit Charles Creek Vineyard to see what else he’s done with cultivars… It’s astounding. I’m not going to list all of his wine varieties here, because I want to list his Charles Creek Kitchen of Sonoma Balsamic Vinegars.

  • Traditional Balsamic Vinegar ~ Rich Balsamic flavors and should be used in all your traditional ways
  • Blueberry Flavored Balsamic Vinegar ~  RECOMMENDED WINE PAIRINGS ~ Pinot Noir, Gamay Beaujolais, or a Trincadeira from Portugal
  • Cinnamon Pear Flavored Balsamic Vinegar ~ Yet to be tasted
  • Black Currant Flavored Balsamic Vinegar ~ RECOMMENDED WINE PAIRINGS ~ Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, or a Touriga Nacional from Portugal

All of these vinegars are aged 18 years, and they’re intended to be enjoyed with fruits, salads, cheeses, and desserts.

With the Charles Creek Kitchen Currant Flavored Balsamic Vinegar, I created my favorite Orzo Salad and enjoyed it with a 2006 Além Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Vinho Regional, Alentejo [Client: Suggested Retail $18.99].

Orzo is the rice-sized pasta that primarily goes into rice pilaf. Alone, in a pasta salad, it’s divine. I make this recipe, and then have the leftovers with lunches throughout the week, because – unless you’re serving it during a big gathering – you’ll have leftovers. (I’m not a fan of leftovers, because they just don’t taste as great as the original serving, but this one is an exception for my finicky palate.)

Here’s the recipe for Jo’s Orzo Rainbow Salad. (Eating a rainbow a day keeps the cancer away.)

Ingredients (You can substitute any colored fruit and/or vegetable for what’s given below):

  • An 8 ounce box of Orzo pasta
  • Dried cranberries (Red)
  • 1 orange pepper (Orange)
  • 1 ear of corn on the cob (Yellow)
  • 3 asparagus sprigs (Green)
  • Half a cup of blueberries (Blue)
  • 1 purple onion (Purple)
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans

How to:

  1. Cook the Orzo according to the package (about eight minutes of boiling), and let cool.
  2. Dice all fruits and vegetables.
  3. Take the corn off the cob.
  4. Steam the asparagus.
  5. When the orzo is cool, add all other ingredients.
  6. Dress with HALF of the oil and vinegar salad dressing below. Save the rest for when you’re enjoying the salad throughout the week. The addition of fresh dressing will revitalize the flavors of the salad.

Black Currant Flavored Balsamic Oil & Vinegar dressing:

  • 1/4 C Black Currant Flavored Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 C Apple Cider or apple juice (I prefer cider)
  • Herbs and spices
    • 1 teaspoon each: sugar, salt, finely chopped garlic, fresh parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • Vigorously blend all ingredients
  • Add: 5/8 C of a light oil (you decided: grape seed oil, canola, extra virgin olive oil)

To finish this meal, I served it with a Tritip steak and roasted veggies: carrots, string beans, and broccoli ~ more colors in your daily rainbow.

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