Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thank You Lunch-- Orzo Salad with Roasted Vegetables

This month will be a year since the big wave. The house is 99. 9% done. Throughout the reconstruction I had promised the hard working crew a meal to commemorate the end. This past Sunday was when it came to pass. In those frigid early months of the year I used to bake cookies and brownies for the guys, promising them a meal but not knowing when I would be ready to entertain. Who knew it would take months to fulfill this comittment!!

We work hard to accommodate a crowd of thirty. The neighbors warrant an invite too. After all we were in the same boat or should I say 'float.' I write out the menu many times. Different times of the day make for different choices. I discuss it with the queen of entertaining, my chef-in-arms friend, Geets. Her valuable input is added in and some of mine crossed out. Shauna shuffles the menu around too. So does Glenn. My head is spinning. It's Friday and I'm still in a dither. Quite unlike me. So I start at the end..the sweet end.

Dessert is an easy decision. Tres Leche and mango fruit salad comes to mind. Lunch is another matter. I waffle between meats. It is to be chicken and meat balls. So they are dutifully marinated. Some pasta will grace the table as I discover sausage in the freezer. And under the sausage is a tried and tested smoked Texan brisket, perfect for sliders. Now that the meats taken care of, I gleefully plan the veggie portion. Garden tomatoes and fresh mozzarella artfully layered with basil, are drizzled with olive oil. Pears, blue cheese and cranberries garnish romaine dressed in lemon vinaigrette. An aromatic vegetable pilaf abuts coconut fish curry. Lastly, a healthy orzo salad, chockful of roasted yams, onions, peppers, parsley and cherry tomatoes is perfect late summer early fall recipe for Sunday lunch.

Orzo Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Serves 4 to 6

1 cup uncooked Orzo pasta
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon 
1 Yam or Sweet Potato
1 large Red Onion
1 Green Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 cup Parsley
1 plus 1 plus 1 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Black pepper

Fill a large pot with 4 to 5 cups water. 

Place pot on a high flame and bring to boil.

Add in the salt and pasta, stir well so the pasta doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Cook for 10 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water.

Put pasta in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Keep aside.

Heat oven to 350F.

Pare yam, cut in half moons and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Peel onions, cut into 1/2 inch squares and place on the same baking sheet.

Cut peppers into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the baking sheet.

Toss the veggies in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. 

Roast in oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove veggies from oven and add to orzo.

Chop parsley finely and mix into pasta.

Wash and dry tomatoes and add to salad.

Drizzle with remaining olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the salad cold or at room temperature


You could add feta cheese morsels for a different take.

Use your choice of roasted and fresh veggies. Everything works!

The afternoon happens to be picture perfect. The crowd spills out onto lush green grass. Our resident bartender Rehan, handles drink orders. I hear the happy clink of beer bottles. The table looks inviting and I see a line for food. War stories abound, everyone wearing them like a badge of honor. Paul, my contractor, tells me of customers who offer to cook for them and never come through. Apparently this is a first for them! All their hard work deserves a small effort on my part, as my home is once again my castle.

Shauna happens to be home for the weekend, rendering invaluable and seamless help!!! It is sooo wonderful having her back in the kitchen with me. I miss my baby. She leaves with two cooler bags full of leftovers. Smug as a bug in a Toyota!!!!