You know the problem. There's a potluck at work or a baby shower or something of the sort and you're supposed to bring a dish. Someone beat you and signed up for "chips and salsa" first. Someone else signed up for your back up plan of "plates and napkins." Okay, you're going to have to cook. These potlucks often have an abundance of sweets but not enough "real food." Not to worry, we have the ideal recipe for you. You don't have to heat it up, it's "real food" that everyone will love and you will be praised for months to come going down into the history of pot lucks as "Remember when Jill brought that fabulous Orzo Salad?" Yeah baby, that's you!
This is Dylan's recipe which was inspired by a rice salad in The Silver Palate Cookbook which both of us love.
3 cups of dried orzo
1 sweet red pepper, chopped into small pieces
6 scallions, cleaned and finely sliced, white and light green parts
1 cup dried currants
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
2 cups frozen peas
1 medium sized carrot, chopped into fine dice
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pine Nuts, toasted
Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Cook the orzo in boiling water until just tender and firm to the bite. Drain and run under cool water for a minute to stop the cooking. Set aside in strainer.
Blanch the frozen peas in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, drain again. Set aside.
In a good sized bowl add the red pepper, the scallions, the currants, the shallot, the olives, the carrot and the parsley. Mix. Now put in your peas, mix gently. Add the orzo and mix again. Set aside and make the vinaigrette.
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (add up to 1/2 tsp as desired)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
Measure mustard into bowl. Whisk in vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and parsley. Whisk in olive oil and adjust seasoning to taste.
Now, let's finish the salad that's going to make you famous. Add about 1/2 of the vinaigrette to the salad and toss. It should be moist, not wet. Add your feta and toss again. Transfer to a nice serving dish and cover. Sprinkle pine nuts on top before serving and bring extra dressing with you. This salad is best served at room temperature so the flavors explode in your mouth. Remember to let us know how it turns out and don't forget the little people when you're famous.