did you just do a happy dance? because i did.
i’ve spent most of my life living in new england, but i can’t help it – i really am a california girl, through and through. i’ve been to some amazingly beautiful places, but my favorites always have the same things: sunshine, salt water, and palm trees.
but living in boston really makes you appreciate these warm summer months. they slip by so quickly, you have to take advantage of every warm, sunny day – because before you know it, we’ll be buried under twenty feet of snow and will be digging your car out, chipping ice off the windows, and longing for those hot, humid days of august.
and boston is really gorgeous this time of year. greenery everywhere, happy dogs, bright flowers, cold beer, farmer’s markets, and all the best food festivals. fresh fruits and veggies, refreshing cocktails, and mouth-watering seafood. what could be better?
i’d like to submit an often-overlooked lovely thing about summer. it’s easy, fresh, energizing, and completely delicious – yes, i’m talking about cold summer salads. i feel like dishes like potato salads, pasta salads, and grain salads sometimes get a bad rap – people think they’re so simple that they aren’t worth eating. they’re a grocery store cop-out. they’re generic and boring. but i think good salads can be absolutely fantastic. perfect as a side dish for a grilled dinner, easy to add protein to for a complete meal in a bowl, and fun to bring to a picnic or barbecue -what more do you need? i’ve already written about my favorite lentil salad, as well as a delicious pasta salad with tofu, but i want to submit a new one for the collection: mediterranean orzo salad.
this salad, like most others, is about as simple and easy to customize as can be. take orzo, add a bunch of stuff you like, stir it up, and eat it. i have a tendency to go a little overboard with fresh veggies and other goodies, so my recipe includes red onion, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, basil, and garlic, along with feta cheese, olives, and capers. you don’t have to use that much stuff if you don’t want – use what’s in your house, or what you find at the farmer’s market. use what makes you happy.
clearly, garlic makes me happy.
mediterranean orzo salad
12 ounces orzo, cooked according to package directions
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed or diced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped
10 olives, roughly chopped (i used a mix of stuffed green and kalamata)
5 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 small red onion, finely sliced
2 tsp capers
salt and pepper to taste
in a large sauce pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. add garlic and allow to saute for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. add cooked orzo and stir, coating in garlic oil. put everything into a large bowl, and top with lemon juice and zest. add spinach, olives, feta cheese, tomato, pepper, onion, and capers. get liberal with your salting and peppering, and stir well. top with extra olive oil or lemon juice if you like.
this dish is great warm, and is also really yummy to make the day before and serve chilled. or you can do what i do and have some right after you make it, then put it in the refrigerator and eat some more later.
happy june! and get excited – i have another amazing giveaway coming up in the next few weeks!