Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Love in Pasta

Summer is the best time to fall in love. Its all that exposed skin, and extra hours of sunlight. This summer I have fallen hard for this Summer Orzo Pasta Salad. The lovely B introduced us back in June and we have been almost inseparable ever since. It makes me feel nostalgic for my Mom's version of Marcella Hazen's rice and chicken salad (also delicious, but slightly more labor intensive - though, now that I am re-reading the recipe, I might need to make this soon too).

For the Orzo salad - I have made some modifications:

  • Add olives. I've been using jarred kalamata olives, but I bet you could use anything. I normally add about 3/4 of a cup of sliced olives, and then a few more - because you can never have too many olives.
  • Add red bell pepper. Or green or orange, whatever you want. Red just ends up being the one on sale most of the time. I use about half a pepper.
  • Leave the tomatoes up to the person eating. I get annoyed when tomato guts are mucking up my salad, so I often wait to slice them up and put them on until I am about to serve it. Its super delicious even without the tomats.
  • You can skip the basil and the mint if you so choose. I refuse to buy herbs at the store since we started growing them, but the hot sun has not been kind to our plants - so this most recent time it was a much smaller handful.
  • It is an aggressive amount of dressing. I end up only using 3/4 cup of olive oil when I make the full amount, but you can half the amount of dressing and still have enough to dress the salad (especially when you're adding big flavors like the olives). But as B. will tell you - do not leave out the honey. It is the key ingredient.
  • Chicken broth is not necessito. I cannot really tell the difference between when the orzo is cooked in broth and when it is cooked in water, and it seems a colossal waste to just cook in broth and then drain it all out.

The lovely thing about this recipe, is you could totally add other awesome shit to it. Chicken? Yes. Grilled asparagus? Yes. Artichoke hearts? Yes, please.

It makes enough for a week of lunches - and as it sits around in that puddle of dressing it only gets more delicious. I don't know if you could really call it healthy, but it is better than a salami and cheese sandwich with Duke's mayonnaise which I had an unhealthy fling with back in early July (because every summer requires a few bad choices).

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She's pint-sized and amazing.