As summer comes around, we're inundated with plans of potlucks, gatherings, backyard barbecues, and block parties. If you're looking for a dish that fulfills all requirements of "What can I bring?!", you'll be pleased to know that this Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing is one of our readers' top side dish recipes. With wedges of creamy avocado and a flavorful buttermilk dressing, this pasta salad recipe is both hearty and easy to pull together. The fiery dressing – which is, in our opinion, the star of the show – gets its depth of flavor from crushed garlic cloves, ground red pepper, chili powder, and black pepper. Ingredients like buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream cut through the heat to bring creaminess to the dish. Although this makes an excellent side dish recipe – after all, who doesn't love a good pasta salad? – this orzo salad can easily be turned into next-day lunch or dinner when you top the salad with some grilled chicken or serve over greens.
Another great thing about this pasta salad recipe is that you have the option to make it lighter. Swap in low-fat buttermilk, canola mayonnaise, and light sour cream to make an equally delicious and lower-calorie version of this crowd favorite. Plus, you likely have the ingredients you need already in the pantry. Doubling this recipe is simple to do, and you'll certainly be grateful when guests start heaping spoonfuls onto their plates. Start this recipe by cooking the orzo according to package directions, omitting any salt and fat. Drain and rinse your orzo well. Add the orzo, corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and beans in a large bowl and toss. To creat the dressing, combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons cilantro, lime juice, sour cream, mayonnaise, chili powder, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle the Spicy Buttermilk Dressing over the orzo mixture; toss to combine. Top the dish with avocado and garnish with remaining cilantro and parsley.