South Florida Gardening

It might seem odd to be writing about making a salad out of the garden with kale and cherry tomatoes at this time of the year in South Florida. But we just happen to have both of these lovely organic vegetables still growing. And what better time of year to make a cold or room temperature pasta salad with a fresh tasting lemony vinaigrette than when the heat of summer is rolling in?

I needed a side dish for dinner, and there was a bunch of kale and a handful of cherry tomatoes (freshly picked) sitting in front of me. Remembering that I had a package of whole wheat orzo in the fridge, I googled these ingredients I had and found a great recipe to adapt for my purposes!  kalynskitchen-orzo salad

golden cherry tomatoes on the vine

Golden cherry tomatoes

So I settled on making an orzo salad with kale, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes. The original recipe called for chickpeas as well, but I didn’t think they were needed – perhaps if we weren’t having meat as the main course, I’d have been more inclined to add them. The recipe also did not call for cherry tomatoes, but I honestly think they really enhanced this dish – their sweetness added such a nice contrast of flavor to the hearty kale, the lemon, and the salty feta. I happened to have these beautiful and intensely sweet golden cherries, but red cherry tomatoes would work well too.

Leaves of lacinato(dinosaur) kale

Lacinato (dinosaur) kale

Last year a child in the garden walked up to the kale, pointed to a leaf and said, “This looks like a reptile.” OMG, I thought, so that must be why it’s called “dinosaur kale.” It had never dawned on me before!

This salad was so refreshing and delicious; my family loved it. It’s definitely a “keeper” that I know we will enjoy again!

Orzo Salad with Kale, Feta & Cherry Tomatoes
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
I like the method in this recipe for tossing the kale in a frying pan in a little bit of olive oil before adding to the salad. I also soaked the kale first for a few minutes in near-boiling water - this is my shortcut to parboiling or steaming greens to remove their strong/bitter taste.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: feta, golden cherry tomatoes, kale, orzo
  • 1 cup orzo, dry
  • 4 cups fresh kale, de-stemmed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Tb lemon zest
  • 3 Tb lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 Tb balsamic vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano or marjoram, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh thyme
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • scant 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Cook the orzo in salted water according to the package directions. Be sure not to over cook it. Drain well and allow to cool. 

  2. (This is an optional step, depending on your taste: I like to soften and remove the bitterness from some greens before I cook them. If you skip this step, then toss the kale in the olive oil for a longer amount of time in the next step until it is fully cooked) 

    Boil a quart of water. Place the kale in a glass heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling hot water for 2-3 minutes until the desired texture and taste is achieved. You are looking for the leaves to soften slightly and a neutral flavor, free of bitterness. When ready, drain and spin or air dry. 

  3. Heat the 2 tsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the pinch of red pepper flakes, stir for 1 minute. Add the kale, and toss gently for just a minute or two. Immediately place the kale in a large bowl that will house the salad. 

  4. Add the cooled orzo and the chopped onions to the bowl with the kale. Mix gently to combine. 

  5. To make the dressing, mix together the lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, cumin, herbs, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. 

  6. Add the dressing a few tablespoonfuls at a time to the salad and mix gently but thoroughly until the desired consistency is obtained. You may not need all of the dressing. 

  7. Add the crumbled feta and the cherry tomatoes to the salad and mix very gently. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Serve and enjoy!