Thursday, September 3, 2009

Orzo Garden Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

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It's hard to make a bad dish using summer produce as long as you keep it simple and use fresh ingredients. And that's what I've done with this dish -- just a simple and classic way to bring out the ripe flavors of fresh summer produce.

For the lemon thyme vinaigrette:
  • 1 shallot, chopped fine
  • juice from 3 lemons
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • lots of fresh ground pepper
For the orzo garden salad:
  • 1 pound of orzo
  • 3 medium tomatoes (preferably vine ripened), chopped
  • 1 large seedless cucumber, chopped
  • 3 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
Whisk to combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. If the vinaigrette does not emulsify, add 2 teaspoons of warm water and whisk. Set aside.

Cook 1 pound of orzo in seasoned water until al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes. Drain. Add tomatoes and cucumber and toss with half of the lemon thyme vinaigrette. Cover and let cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. When the salad is cool, add spinach and the remaining vinaigrette. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

When making such a simple dish with very few ingredients, it's important to season properly and use fresh quality ingredients. I tried adding some cheese to the pasta salad but it doesn't need any cheese to be delicious. To me, this is the best kind of summer food -- simple, refreshing and easy to make.

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