Janet here: I don't know about you but one way in which I've become wiser over the years is discovering that salad is actually a lot more than just some iceberg lettuce with a tomato or cucumber thrown in for good measure. It's been a happy revelation, especially in the summer months when turning on the oven or cooking over the hot stove loses some of its appeal. With salad you can toss a few ingredients together, add a dressing and voila! instant dinner. Want to add a little something from the grill, go for it.
The other appeal of salads is their easy transportability for picnics and other outdoor outings. We had relatives visiting from England over the weekend and an outdoor concert with a picnic was part of the plan. I made these two salads ahead of time and we were good to go. Add some beverages, paper plates and these killer cookies I made (more on these another time) and we were ready to dance to Broadway show tunes under the tent.
The first salad I made was this fabulous Chinese chicken salad from the Barefoot Contessa. If you haven't made this yet, I don't know what you are waiting for. I have never made it to anything but rave reviews.
I also made a roasted veggie salad. I'll provide the basic recipe below but really this is a recipe that screams for some improvisation. Use whatever veggies you like best. Add some additional seasoning — soy sauce? chili powder? — to the dressing. Be brave. It's really almost impossible to ruin. :)
Happy outdoor eating!
Roasted Veggie Salad
veggies of your choice, sliced for roasting. I used a red pepper and yellow pepper, and a large red onion
1/2 pound or so of orzo
about 2 tablespoons olive oil for roasting the veggies; about 1/4 cup or so for the dressing
4 scallions, diced
juice of two lemons
salt and pepper to taste
about 1/4 cup of pine nuts
about 3/4 cup of feta cut in small 1/2-inch blocks rather than crumbled
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut up the veggies and place in a large roasting pan. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper. Toss until well coated. Place in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes. I turn them a bit at 20 minutes to make sure they're getting fairly evenly browned. Take out of oven and let cool.
Cook the orzo according to directions on the box. Rinse with cool water, drain and put in a large bowl.
Whisk together the 1/4 cup of olive oil, lemon juice and additional salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the orzo.
Once the veggies are cool, add them to the orzo. Toss and then add the feta and pine nuts and toss more gently.
Serve cold or room temperature (my preference).