It must be getting towards spring, even here, because I’m ready to think about salads again. But not green salads: every year in June, my farmshare delivers up so much lettuce that eating green salad every day — sometimes twice a day — is the only way to manage it, so I try to save up my green salad desires for that. Instead, I’m going for bean salads and salads like this one that combine grains and vegetables.
The grain in this salad is orzo, a tiny pasta shaped a bit like grains of rice. It’s combined here with broccoli, asparagus, and feta, and then optionally topped with almonds and cucumber. The full version (pictured above) is lovely, but I find myself making the simpler version much more often.
Orzo and feta salad
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1 pound dried orzo
Half a bunch of asparagus (about a dozen stems)
A small head of broccoli
1 clove of garlic, minced, or 1/2 t. crushed garlic
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (this is a time for a good one; you can taste it!)
1/3 c. feta
Optional: a handful of slivered or sliced almonds; a quarter of a cucumber.
First, set a large pot of water on the stove. Salt it, and turn the heat to high.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus, then chop the remaining spears in segments about two inches long. Remove the broccoli’s stem and chop into small florets, not more than an inch across.
When the water boils, add the orzo. It usually takes about ten minutes to cook, but double-check the package. One minute before it is done, add the broccoli. Wait 30 seconds, then add the asparagus. Wait another 30 seconds, then drain. The vegetables should be bright green and just tender.
In a little bowl, mix the garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. Put the orzo-vegetable mix in a bowl, and mix it with about half of the dressing. Chop or crumble the feta and sprinkle it on top.
If you are using the cucumber, peel it. Slice thinly, then half the slices to make half-moons.
I recommend storing the salad without the cucumber and almonds on it: the cucumber is moist enough that it can make the feta sticky, and the almonds soften. If you want to use these, add them just before serving, or in the morning if you’re packing a lunch. The remainder of the dressing should be added at the same time.
Makes about eight servings.