I thought it was time for a new pasta salad for summer not because I needed one but because Sylvie did. Sylvie’s graduating from high school, you see, and of course she’s having a graduation party. Since Sylvie, a stellar singer and dancer, has cooked and baked with me since she was a wee girl, I’m thrilled to work out something fun and luscious to go with her dad’s great pulled pork tacos and bring it along to fete one of my favorite students and people.
Next day: add some feta, more vegetables, and some oregano for a great salad.
When it’s spring, I’m all over asparagus. You know that if you read my stuff. But, it’s fennel, too. Ramps (a bit like scallions) are also a treat if I can find them. I like to bring all these April goodies together…and here’s one favorite I pair with a grilled or poached salmon. Later on, come summer (or for next-day leftovers), I make a great salad by using this basic recipe with a few additions. Try this:
lemon orzo with asparagus, peas, and fennel serves 4-6
1/2# orzo, cooked al dente according to dirrections and drained
1T each olive oil and butter (use all olive oil for vegan option)
1# trimmed asparagus cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, and sliced
1/2 cup fresh/frozen peas
1/4 cup sliced red onion or ramps
Juice of a lemon
1T grated lemon rind
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper
While the orzo cooks, saute the asparagus, fennel, peas and onion in the olive and butter for 3-4 minutes until softened. In a large bowl, mix together the drained orzo with the cooked vegetables. Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a bit of crushed red pepper (or aleppo pepper if you want the taste, but not all the heat) and taste. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot or at room temperature.
For the next-day or summer cold salad, you can add to the leftovers chopped feta, dried oregano, fresh basil, any other on-hand chopped vegetables, a splash of red wine vinegar and a little more olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings again.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood:
Out of my garden:
All together: Annual Lilac-Bloom Dinner last Friday at our house.