Simplicity has been our theme this summer. I went back to work in June and realized that I wasn't superwoman. Oh, I knew it way before then, but adding big deadlines to my juggling pile made me think less about what I wanted to do and more about what I could realistically do, and the first thing on my list was to make our meals easier and faster to prepare.
We're still cooking from scratch; no take out, no pizza delivery guy ringing our doorbell, we're just making our weekday meals less complicated. Not that I was serving cordon bleu before, but now we are even more mindful of our menu and time required to prepare food. The season is in our favor, with so many fresh fruits and vegetables available it's easy to pull together a quick meal. Our tomatoes are ripening beautifully, and we gathered some of the fresh grape tomatoes and parsley and basil from the garden and added all of it to the bowl.
I chose this pasta salad from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites because the beautiful colors jumped out me and the flavors seemed just right. This recipe makes enough for a crowd. I cut it in half and noted it could still comfortably feed four people as a light meal.
This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, hosted by Jessica of Finny Knits. Visit the Grow Your Own information page to learn more about the event, and visit Jessica's post with information on this round. Entries are due tomorrow August 15.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- large pot with a lid
- fine mesh strainer
- large mixing bowl
- small bowl
- 16 ounces orzo or other small pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (+ 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups Kalamata olives (chopped)
- 2 pints grape tomatoes (halved lengthwise)
- 1 large red onion (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup drained capers (optional)
- 1/2 cup lightly packed chopped fresh parsley leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- pinch sea salt
- Bring about 3 quarts of water to boil in the large pot. Add salt and the orzo and cook until al dente. Drain well in the mesh strainer, then pour hot orzo into the mixing bowl.
- While the orzo cooks, stir together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the small bowl. Pour the mixture over the hot orzo and toss. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the olives, grape tomatoes, onion, capers, and parsley, and stir well. Season with fresh ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.
- Mix Kalamata with green and black olives.
- Double the lemon zest and juice.
- Add 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil leaves or fresh oregano.
- Add 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add 1 cup chopped seedless cucumbers or red bell pepper.
- Add 1 cup crumbled feta cheese.
- Substitute a different cooked grain for the orzo, such as Israeli couscous, barley, or quinoa.