Sunday, April 26, 2009
ORZO SUMMER SALAD
You might think that I'm jumping the gun as we are barely into Spring and I'm posting a summer salad but here in South Florida, we only have two seasons: A nine month Summer and three months of a season that can only be described as Not Summer. Temperatures here are in the high 80s and tip-toeing into the 90s.
This salad is a family favorite and both of my daughters request it when they are home. Daughter #1 recently called me for the recipe so she could take it to a carry-in luncheon at work. We had a little problem because I never measure anything and do most things by taste. She isn't crazy about cooking and prefers precise direction. She didn't get precise directions but guess what! Her salad was a hit anyway. I knew it would be.
This salad is refreshing in warm weather and perfect for potluck gatherings because there is no mayonnaise and it can sit out without fear of sending party guests home with food poisoning. Remember that my measurements are not exact and in fact, I will substitute ingredients depending upon what's available or on sale at the time.
1 lb box orzo (rice shaped pasta)
1 small red pepper chopped (I have substituted quartered grape tomatoes and it was great)
1 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
I also like to use an English cucumber. No seeding or peeling required.
1/2 red onion chopped
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese cubed
rice wine vinegar to taste (of course you can use the vinegar of your choice but I prefer rice wine for this dish.)
extra virgin olive oil to taste
salt and pepper to taste
8 large leaves of basil rolled and cut into strips (chiffenade)
Cook orzo according to instructions. Be sure not to overcook. You want the pasta to be al dente. Drain and cool.
While water is coming to boil and pasta is cooking, chop the vegetables. You can see by the picture that I try to keep the pieces small to match the orzo. The size doesn't change the flavor but makes the texture of the salad more consistent.
Combine the pasta and the vegetables. Add the cubed mozzarella cheese and the basil. Add the basil last as it bruises easily. You can combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together in a bowl to get the flavor you want before adding or wing it like I do and just add each ingredient directly to the salad. I've never screwed it up so badly that we didn't eat it. :-)
Try it. I think you'll like it.
And as my grandmother used to say, "If you like it, tell others. If not, tell me!"