Remains of a Salad

Orzo Salad

As part of my cook-through-the-weekend plan (which fell apart on Sunday, incidentally, darn it), I made a nice, summery meal on Friday night. It’s been pretty warm and sunny here for the long weekend, which was fantastic. Friday night featured this orzo salad, plus turkey burgers and gin and tonics.

For someone who prowls for recipes as much as I do, it’s funny how often I cook without one. None of these dishes were made with a whole lot of guiding information. This is mostly a result of making these kinds of things so often I don’t bother with a recipe anymore. That said, a recipe for the drinks would have been handy, since I overdid the gin a little. Oh well, there are certainly worse things in the world!

For this salad, start by cooking up 1/2 a pound (give or take–I eyeballed it) of orzo. This stuff cooks up pretty quickly. Drain, rinse with lots of cold water, and set aside.

Chop up a cucumber, small shallot (or red onion) and whatever else you’ve got on hand. I had some grape tomatoes which I sliced in half, but if you’ve got red pepper, green pepper, blanched asparagus spears, a little zucchini, go ahead and use them. Dump into a large bowl with your orzo.

Now for the dressing. You can go right ahead and use a bottled Italian dressing, but I like to do it myself. I took a bowl and added a few swirls of extra-virgin olive oil–maybe three tablespoons? And then a few glugs of red wine vinegar–maybe two or three tablespoons? I do this by taste–I add some, taste some, add some, taste some, until I have the proportion I liked. Then I added probably 1/4-1/2 t of dried oregano and some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Whisk together and toss with your stuff in the bowl. Then you add a couple handfuls of feta. I love feta, so there was probably at least 1/4 c in there. You can adjust to your liking, or even use a different cheese altogether, like diced mozzerella.

Serve immediately. I hate how as a pasta salad sits it absorbs the dressing, weakening the vinegar’s flavor, so I always add a little more when I eat it again the next day. And the next. And so on.

In case you are curious about our turkey burger recipe, it’s based on one in the Boston Globe many years ago that Mr. Pea found and copied at work. You take a pound of ground turkey and add 1 T barbecue sauce, 1/2 to 1 T worcestershire, and a teaspoon or so of cajun seasoning, along with a few diced button mushrooms and half an onion, finely chopped. These are some of the tastiest turkey burgers I’ve ever had, as so often they’re unseasoned and kind of unflavorful. This time I made them with a third of a portabella, chopped. It was a nice way to start off the summer.


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