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Spinach, Almond and Orzo Salad with Cranberries

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Spinach and Orzo Salad

This salad has been in my repertoire for a couple of years now and my mom requests I make it pretty much every time we have a get together and I offer to bring a dish. It’s absolutely delicious and has so much going on in terms of texture and flavor. The spinach, almonds and whole wheat orzo offers a nice nutritional punch while the cranberries and crumbled gorgonzola takes it over the top with flavor. I find myself having a hard time resisting a second and third serving of this salad when I make it. Not only is this salad great to bring to pot lucks or get togethers, it makes a wonderful light dish to have for lunch or pair up with grilled chicken for dinner. Try it and let me know what you think!

Spinach and Orzo Salad with Cranberries and Almonds
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

1 cup whole wheat orzo, uncooked
3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
about 3/4 of a 6 oz bag of baby spinach, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dried cranberries
4 oz gorgonzola, crumbled

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (I toast in a nonstick skillet over med heat for about 5 minutes)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1-2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 1/2 cup light flavored oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to instructions on package, set aside to cool completely.

To prepare dressing,  whisk together in a small bowl (or shake in a jar) sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, vinegar, oil and pinches of salt and pepper.

In a large salad bowl combine orzo, almonds, spinach and cranberries. Gently toss ingredients with 1/3-1/2 amount of dressing, add more or less to your liking. (I don’t like my salad overdressed.)

Add crumbled gorgonzola and gently toss again.

Serve immediately at room temperature or slightly chilled.

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