Thursday, September 5, 2013

Orzo salad with ALL THE GREEN THINGS!

As of 9:23 Monday morning, I am officially a hermit. So far I've moved all my shoes into my grandfather's closet (weird), eaten croutons dipped in salad dressing for lunch, and broken a glass jar trying to make iced tea. Fun fact: some things with handles should not be picked up by them. Lesson learned.

I started writing this post almost a month ago, when this place was sloppy with dogs and aunts and houseguests and happy. My cousin Grant was poking me in the arm repeatedly with a pencil, which it turns out is exactly the maximum amount of distraction I'm capable of tuning out while either typing or reading papers about eelgrass habitat. I'd made this salad twice in the previous week, because in addition to being fantastic it feeds a crowd. Sitting on the same couch minus the arm-poking cousin, I realized I should probably get this recipe up because  now that I'm alone, I'm not likely to make it again  soon. A pox on the unfreezability of salad!

This recipe and I go way back; it's adapted from something a friend found on Epicurious when we were in high-school and wanted dinner we could pack into tupperware and take on a weekend road trip to Santa Cruz. On another, unrelated road trip, I ended up eating the stuff using a mustard lid instead of a fork or a spoon. I'm not sure how we forgot utensils, but I distinctly remember the mustard lid. It was not effective.

I like it because it's green on green on green, and crunchy chewy delicious. I think the word toothsome might actually apply here. Every time I made it this summer, a real adult asked me for the recipe, and it actually gets better after a couple days in the fridge. So go! Make orzo salad while it still sort of seems like summer. I'm gonna go eat more croutons.

Orzo Salad with All the Green Things
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious

Notes: I generally treat the quantities below as guidelines- I buy a mid-sized fennel bulb and then just use all of it- so feel free to improvise. Additionally, I've found that sticking the log of goat cheese in the freezer for 5-10 minutes beforehand makes it easier to crumble.

1/2 tsp white pepper 
2/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large clove garlic

8 ounces green beans, trimmed
8 ounces orzo (1 1/4 cups)
2 cups unpeeled cucumber, in 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup diced fresh fennel bulb
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
8oz goat cheese

Bring  a pot of salted water to a boil, then blanch green beans to your desired level of crunchiness (I go with 3 minutes). Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a cutting board. Add orzo to the same water, and cook according to package directions.

Blend dill, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, white pepper, and garlic in a mini food-processor until smooth. Season with salt.

Cut green beans into 1 inch pieces, and place in a serving bowl. Add orzo, cucumber, and fennel, and then stir in dressing. When the whole thing is a rather uniform shade of green, add toasted pine nuts and crumble in goat cheese. Toss again, then eat happily.

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