Last week I sat down to plan a meal for my housemates and found myself in that particular summer dilemma -- what to make when the weather is just too stifling to turn on the oven?
Enter the cold salad. Grab a grain or pasta, chop up whatever veggies are fresh, add some herbs and a bit of kick, and voila! A delicious dinner with minimal heat.
I seem to have some company on this particular train of thought. On The Splendid Table this week, Martha Rose Shulman joined host Lynne Rossetto Kasper to talk about summer salads. Listen to the show or check out one of the recipes they talked about.
I ended up preparing the intensely flavorful salad below, and received a rave review from one of my housemates: "Jeanne! Dinner last night was super-yummy! I felt like I was at a restaurant...if restaurants let you sit on a couch while watching Arrested Development!" Just think what your guests might say if you served this at an Open Arms potluck...
Orzo Salad with Grapefruit and Peanuts
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
1-2 small chilies, minced, or about 1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce
8 ounces orzo
1 large grapefruit, peeled, sectioned and chopped
1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1 medium to large ripe tomato, cored, seeded and chopped
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1. In a small bowl, combine the chilies, garlic, sugar, lime juice and soy sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (This dressing may be prepared a day or two in advance; if anything, its flavor will improve.)
2. Cook and drain the orzo.
3. Mix the grapefruit, 1/2 cup of the peanuts, the tomato, scallions, mint and 1/3 cup of the cilantro together in a large bowl.
4. Toss the orzo in the large bowl with the grapefruit mixture and the dressing.
5. Divide the salad among serving bowls, garnish with the remaining peanuts and cilantro, and serve.