July 30, 2006

Summer Salad

Summer is indisputably salad-time. Appetites are a little supressed from the heat, and an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs cry out for use. Not only are our appetites a little down - we still get hungry, but seem to fill up faster - but our desire to do much work in the kitchen (or out of it) also fades. Fortunately, the summer salad is a perfect opportunity for some easy, make-head, delicious dinner options.

You could serve this as a side dish, and I often have, or take it as a potluck item that will stand out beside other pasta salads, or indeed, hold its own against many a main course, or you can cram it into pita for a quick bite on the go. Sometimes, if I'm really feeling worn out, I'll just sit down to a bowl of this in front of the television and let my brain turn criticizing advertisements, or snarking at the shows on FoodTV.

It keeps really well in a sealed, tupperware-type container, for about a week. Doubtless, you will have eaten it all up long before then. As an added bonus, this dish has under 30% of its calories from fat, so it's fairly healthy, too. The use of low GI ingredients (chickpeas and lemon juice) mean that it's value on the glycemic index is probably quite low - which means that it will fill you up without wreaking havoc on your glucose levels.

Chickpea & Orzo Salad
(adapted from Cooking Light's Simple Summer Suppers)

1 cup uncooked orzo
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 19 oz. can Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) - drained
zest and juice of one lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 - 2 cloves minced fresh garlic

Cook orzo until done in lightly salted water - about five minutes. Take care not to overcook, as you don't want the pasta to become mushy. Al dente is the goal. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Drain thoroughly, and place in large bowl. Add drained chickpeas, green onions, dill, lemon zest and feta to the bowl of pasta, and toss gently to distribute evenly. Combine juice, water, garlic, salt, and olive oil, and stir well. Pour dressing over the salad, folding the ingredients gently so to coat everything thoroughly.

Try not to eat it all before it makes it into the fridge. You can serve it right away, but it's terrific very cold from the fridge - especially with a nice glass of crisp white wine.


kickpleat said...

mmm, i love orzo but can never remember to buy it! i love the look of that salad and i'm sure it tastes amazing. definitely something i'll try soon.

Nerissa said...

Ooh yum. two of my favourite comfort foods. Now if only I could find decent orzo. Lately, all I have been able to find is multi-coloured. Whatever brand the store is using ends up too sticky. It's weird.
I'll this recipe out if I can find decent orzo.

Katy said...

Yum that looks very summer yum! I can join in the complaint about finding Orzo, Corrientes doesnt have much in terms of anything not found locally (it is almost imposible to even get berry fruit from the south!) But your salad looks fab when I get back to the states I will have to try it out.

Rachel said...


Dawna said...

Multi-coloured orzo? Sounds insane! I would imagine they use spinach and beets for colouring, like the multi-coloured macaroni you can get.

To mitigate stickiness, be sure not to cook the orzo for as long as the packet says - taste one to determine done-ness: it only takes a few minutes for them to cook - and rinse very thoroughly and immediately in cold water, upon draining.

I mostly make this in the summer - and I always forget just how much I love it until I make the first one of the season. For those with trouble finding orzo, I suspect you could make a pretty good version using tiny shell pasta, or the teensiest spirals you can find. Orzo still has its magic for me, though, and since it's readily available at the Greek import place, I have no trouble sourcing it.