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 Farmer’s Market Orzo Salad

Farmer's Market Orzo Salad

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

2 ½ quarts water or vegetable stock

6 oz orzo pasta

1 small summer squash

1 pint small tomatoes of mixed colors and varietals

1 ear corn “on the cob”

¼ cup pine nuts

½ cup fresh basil leaves

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the vegetables and herbs. Using a mandolin on the thinnest slicer setting, or a sharp knife, slice the summer squash into paper-thin rounds (crosswise) or ribbons (lengthwise, omitting the seedy core). Place cut squash into a colander, sprinkle with 2 tsp salt and mix well to coat. Set colander into a sink to drain for about an hour (some moisture will be drawn out of the squash, making it tender). Slice the tomatoes in half, from top to bottom, and set aside. Shuck the ear of corn, and standing it up on its widest end, carefully cut the kernels off the cob; discard the cob, and set the kernels aside. In a small pan over a low flame, toast the pine nuts for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally and taking care not to burn them. When they become fragrant and lightly golden, remove from the heat and set aside. Tear basil into bite sized pieces, or chiffonade into thin ribbons. By now the squash in the colander has drained for a while; gently squeeze the squash to release any remaining excess moisture, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring salted water (or vegetable broth) to a boil. Add dried orzo, stirring as it is poured into the water, and stirring occasionally as it cooks to prevent the grains from sticking together. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until it has a firm, chewy texture. Drain orzo in a colander. Pour orzo into a mixing bowl; drizzle with olive oil (a good quality oil can make this dish spectacular!) and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in the prepared vegetables, nuts and herbs. Adjust for seasoning and enjoy!

Variations: With summer grain salads, the options are endless! Try using quiona for a gluten-free variation, adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for brightness, changing out the vegetables based on what is on hand or at the market, using different herbs like parsley or tarragon, adding a boost of protein with chickpeas or white beans, giving it a bit of “bite” with some small diced red onion, or adding crumbled cheese like feta or chevre. You can’t go wrong!