This is one of those summer recipes that has been burning a hole in my pocket. I’ve been dying to make it and (predictably) I’ve jumped the gun because 60 degrees is so not summer. But I just couldn’t wait. With just one look at its rainbow of produce and festive strands of basil, you can smell the smoky wafts off the grill, feel the warm breeze against your skin and hear the tinkling ice cubes buoyed in your favorite summer cocktail. In other words, even if it’s not yet summer, this salad can help you pretend.
It’s an Ina Garten recipe, but really I consider it my friend Brynn’s recipe because she made it a few years back when she hosted a houseful of our college friends for a Chicago reunion weekend. It was met with rave reviews then (as in, there was an unfortunate episode involving me and Brynn and a few others hovering over the leftovers, forks in hand, after a night on the town—not all that unlike a certain other unfortunate incident I owned up to here). And I’ve been making it ever since.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Continuing with the week’s theme, we grilled these veggies instead of roasting them and it’s an alteration I intend to make permanent. We’re making this salad again on Sunday when we have our families over after my graduation ceremony. As the forecast stands now, I’m pretty glad this salad’s on the menu. We might all need a little pretending.
Grilled Vegetable Orzo Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten
Zucchini, 1-inch diced
1 medium red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 medium red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
11⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 pound orzo
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 whole scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and sliced
1⁄4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3⁄4 pound good feta, 1⁄2-inch diced (not crumbled)
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
Prepare the grill.
Toss zucchini, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Transfer to a grill basket. Grill for 15-20 minutes, until browned, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the grill basket into the pasta bowl.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pine nuts, feta and basil. Check the seasonings and serve at room temperature.