Orzo Cucumber Salad

Let’s talk about a basic salad. One that has the very basic formula of vegetable+grain+lemon juice+olive oil+cheese. Are you with me? I worry that you may be bored with something so simple, something I’m confident you have figured out on your own.

Yet I feel the urge to plug for the very basic salad recipe. There’s something so refreshing about the ability to bring together a satisfying and healthy dish that goes only a few steps beyond bagged salad greens and bottled dressing, something I used to use to fill in the blanks of meals and snacks here and there. I much prefer something like this, don’t you?

Take note: this is another recipe with less than 10 ingredients!

Orzo Cucumber Salad
Version inspired by Real Simple Magazine

3-4 ounces cucumber, chopped
~2 ounces another vegetable, like green pepper, chopped
2 ounces Feta/approx. 1/2 Cup, crumbled
3 small scallions, thinly sliced
1.5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Consider that there are unlimited options for variation here. This other recipe I was considering used sun-dried tomato and red onion. Shallots would work. And if you are fresh out of fresh lemons, champagne or white wine vinegar make sense.

If you're wondering what I am doing with the rest of that sizable green pepper, it is going into this weekend's Super Bowl chili.

If you’re wondering what I am doing with the rest of that sizable green pepper, it is going into this weekend’s Super Bowl chili.


Cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain; run under cold water to cool and shake well to remove excess water.

Prepare vegetables:
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Aside: as you know, I made a resolution to take prompter action on my task list. One such task was to have the kitchen knives professional sharpened, something we never had done. We have a honing device, like this:
honer
which you’re supposed to use often, and an old electric sharpener kinda like this that never provided satisfactory results. In my singular experience, it is surprisingly easy to find a traveling knife sharpener who picks up the phone, makes an appointment to come to your house at your convenience, and then accepts payment on a per knife basis. Easy peasy.

I have noticed a huge improvement in some cases. For some reason, scallions had been giving me trouble with the duller chef’s knife, and is where I felt a serious difference and ease in making thin slices.
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In a medium bowl, toss the orzo with the cucumber, Feta, scallions, green pepper, lemon juice, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Mmm feta. Can't I just eat this?

Mmm feta and lemon juice. Can’t I just eat this?


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Enjoy cold or at room temperature.

And so it begins

This past week, I picked my first of 26 weekly shares of vegetables from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm.

I started this writing in this blog, in earnest, after my CSA farm share season had ended last year. But this regular supply of truly fresh, unique, and beautiful produce is a major source of inspiration for “Make Haste Not Waste.” Each week, I feel compelled to take advantage of every vegetable.

I knew that the beginning of the season meant that I would be faced with at least one thing I wasn’t excited about: radishes.

It’s not that I hate radishes — there are very few foods I truly hate — but they don’t do much for me. They are more likely to elicit “ehhhhhh” than “mmmmm.”

In advance, I started collecting every recipe I can across that used radishes in an interesting way: I have recipes for radish butter, chicken, arugula, and radish pizza, and sesame cucumber and radishes. My hunch was correct: radishes were included in this first share.

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The first time around, I went with a salad recipe that would utilize lettuce greens that were also included in the share and which have a shorter shelf life.

Radish Salad with Goat Cheese
adapted from Cooking Light, April 2013
2 servings

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1.5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 – 1 teaspoon honey
– I like my salad dressing a little sweet, especially when dealing with the slightly spicy/bitter flavor of radish
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 cup radishes, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch wedges, leaving on root and 1/2 inches of stem
1.5 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 cups mixed lettuce greens, or baby spinach
4 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well.
Add radishes and oregano; toss to coat.

Divide lettuce between 2 plates. Using a slotted spoon, top each plate with 1/2 cup radishes. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle remaining dressing evenly over salads.

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You know what? I was fine with the radishes in this dish. The assertive flavors of oregano and vinegar stood out more. In fact, I think my reaction to eating this salad might have been closer to “mmmm” than “ehhh.”

Still, I’ll probably be keeping my eye out for a recipe that hides radishes in a cake 🙂