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Orzo and Summer Vegetable Salad

Yield: enough for 20 servings

  • 3 cups dry orzo pasta
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

for the oil:

  • leaves from 1 big bunch basil, florets reserved for garnish
  • 3 scallions, coarse chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, leaves only
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium golden zucchini
  • 1/2 lb. snow peas
  • 1 bunch large radishes
  • 2 ears fresh sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

To finish:

  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch chopped parsley
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Notes: the components for this salad can be made a day in advance, but combine them just before serving. The oil will hold in the refrigerator for a day if strained once, or a week if the double straining method below is followed. Leftover salad will still be good, but orzo will soften a bit.

Boil the orzo in well salted water until al dente; be careful not to overcook. Drain in a fine meshed sieve, and immediately rinse it in cold water to stop the cooking. Toss with the tablespoon olive oil and chill.

Make the herb oil: combine basil, scallions, parsley and oil in blender and puree well. Heat in a small pot to a simmer, simmer 45 seconds. Strain. Re-strain through a coffee filter without pushing on ingredients. Refrigerate.

Wash all the squash, trim the ends, cut into 8 or more even lengthwise strips (depending on the size of squash) then cut the strips cross-wise into fine dice. Place in a colander, toss with 2 tablespoons kosher salt, and let drain for 1/2 hour. Taste, and if overly salty rinse briefly; let drain again and store.

Wash and de-string snowpeas. Cut crosswise into fine julienne. Wash radishes, slice, then cut the slices into julienne. Blanch the shucked corn 1 minute in boiling salted water, then cut from the cob (do this with the corn lying down on the board, it’s less messy). With the back of the knife, scrape the cob to get all the remaining bits. Combine corn, snow peas and radish in a zip bag and store.

Slice the pitted olives into quarters lengthwise. Chop the rest of the bunch of parsley. Combine both in a zip bag to store.

For service, combine all the ingredients, using as much oil as needed (you will probably only need half). Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with basil florets or julienned basil leaves just before serving.