Monday, July 30, 2012

Orzo & Summer Squash Salad

Good Lord, it's hot outside. The heat and humidity this summer have been insufferable. Staying inside means sky high electric bills; it's like Entergy has a nuclear plant dedicated to powering your air conditioner. Leaving the house is even worse. When you take that first step out the front door, it feels like you're wearing a warm, wet blanket.

Keeping cool is a theme that extends to the dinner table, and the stifling heat makes summertime meals a challenge as well. While it's perfectly acceptable to rely exclusively on Hansen's and Creole Creamery for your entire daily calorie intake, a little vegetation every now and then is a welcome change of pace. A few weeks ago The Folk Singer found this recipe for an orzo and zucchini salad, and we have adopted it as our own with a few tweeks. It's cool, refreshing, and has quickly become one of our go to summer dishes.

Orzo & Summer Squash Salad
  • 1 1/2 cups dry orzo pasta
  • 3 baby zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz. feta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • salt and pepper
Cook the orzo according to instructions. Don't forget to add salt to the cooking water. Drain, rinse under cold water to cool down, and dry as best as you can.

Cut the zucchini lengthwise and then slice into 1/4 inch half moons. Chop off the neck of the squash and follow the same process as the zucchini. For the thicker base of the squash, I like to cut it lengthwise into quarter rounds and then slice. The main goal is uniform cuts. After prepping all of the veggies, hit them a few grinds of salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, and red pepper and whisk with a fork. Add the squash and zucchini and lightly toss to coat. Throw the bowl into the fridge to continue to chill while the orzo finishes cooking and cooling.  In a perfect world, the vegetables will marinate for an hour.

After the orzo has cooled, add it to the bowl with the squash and zucchini. Dice the feta and throw that in as well.  Same for the dill if you got it. Gently toss everything together and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a grilled hanger steak and a bottle of properly chilled Joseph Drouin 2009 Côte de Beaune Villages ($25 from Hopper's Cartes des Vins).

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