Last Tuesday was my birthday. I celebrated by hanging out with my two favorite boys (one little, one big) and doing nothing special, in particular. We ran some errands and picked up salmon to grill for dinner. We found a home for my new-to-me compost bin that is close enough to the back door for me to get to, even in the winter, but not so close that we can smell it doing its job. It was a stress-free, completely relaxed, productive day. It was a perfect way to begin a new year.
Because our lives are run by a 2-year old whose time of day is decidedly NOT evening, we made an early dinner of grilled salmon, sauteed swiss chard in olive oil and garlic, and an orzo salad with fresh parsley and mint. While we made dinner, we sipped a Pimm’s cocktail that I was recently served at a friend’s house and had been meaning to make at home for weeks. For dessert, I was presented with a chocolate-mocha mousse cake and serenaded with “Happy Dirfday”. We had a tough time explaining to our son that one slice of cake was plenty, and that more would make him sick. Then we fought with him over taking a bath, trimming his hair, brushing his teeth, and going to bed. Naturally.
The following recipe is for the orzo salad that I made. It is fresh, light, and easy to make. I chose some parsley and mint from my garden, as well as a glorious little cucumber and a fresh red onion that we picked up this week from our CSA.
I intend on eating the leftover salad later in the week, possibly with the addition of some cherry tomatoes and paired with grilled mustard-garlic chicken.
makes 6-8 servings
4 cups water
1 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups dried orzo
1 small cucumber, washed and diced (approx 1 cup)
1/2 small fresh red onion, peeled and diced (approx 3/4 cup)
1 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
3/4 cup cubed cow’s milk feta
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add orzo and replace lid so that it is 1/2 closed. Stir to make sure the orzo hasn’t stuck to the bottom and return pot to a boil, cooking orzo until al-dente, approx. 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain water from pasta.
In a medium bowl, add orzo and all remaining ingredients. Toss to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper and let cool to room temperature, then serve.
Nicole Kutcher is the author of A Bushel of What?, a blog that chronicles her experience as a CSA shareholder and sometimes gardener in the form of kitchen adventures, ideas and favorite recipes. She is also a co-owner of Renew Pilates Studio in Easthampton, MA.