Thursday, August 21, 2008

Orzo Salad and The Influential Power of Simple Food

As a former teacher, I always think very kindly upon those lovely human beings who are put in the position to care for my two girls in school. When I see them, I am often reminded of my days back in the high school English classroom, working away, often by 11:00, with a gnawing feeling in my stomach. Unlike an office job, where sometimes it is possible to sneak away early for lunch, or to grab a quick snack at your desk, teaching does not afford you these mini luxuries or getaways when you are hungry. I would often stand in front teaching, and then would think to myself, "Man - I am HUNGRY" and would be thinking about what to eat. There were SOME DAYS, where I wouldn't manage to get it together and pack myself a lunch in the morning before rushing off to school. Those days were the WORST. Because it meant I either had to:
A: eat in a totally disgusting cafeteria filled with nasty reheated fast food
B: run off of campus in my car and quickly grab some fresh fast food (does such a thing
exist?), but not have enough time to eat before lunch was over
C: eat the essays that I hadn't finished grading
D: starve
All of the options above were not appealing in any way shape or form but I've suffered through debating those options on more than one occasion. However, one day, a lovely student's mother brought me lunch - a delicious homemade lunch. And I've never forgotten it. It was a simple meal of some chicken and rice, but it was hot and made with someone's hands. I doubt in my many years of teaching I've tasted something that yummy. Needless to say, I always held a soft spot for that student and her mother.

Which brings me to the title of this post - Influential Power of Simple Food. What our two presidential candidates should do to win the popular vote is this - cook for the people. Instead of debates, provide delicious homemade food to those people who are working and too busy to cook for themselves. I am sure that many a vote would be won by the candidate whose food was most delicious, nourishing and satisfying. However, since politicians are far too blinded by the "big picture" to see the small things, I encourage all of you dear readers to try it for yourself. Cook something simple and give it to a teacher, a workmate or a friend who is need of a little affection. It will influence their goodwill towards you in such a keen and powerful way. NO ONE hates the hands that feeds him or her.

So what to cook? I have the perfect dish - Orzo Salad by Giada de Laurentiis. It is satisfying, delicious and totally easy to make. It requires basically, boiling water and cooking some orzo, making a dressing, chopping some vegetables and tossing it all together. It's very simple. It is universally appealing - I have yet to meet a person who does not love this recipe. I've made it for my daughters' teachers at school, and it's always met with rave reviews. I've made it for friends. Even one of my friends, a very accomplished cook herself, says, "it's always better when someone else makes it for you." I've posted this salad before as a side dish to BBQ, but now I'm encouraging all of you to try and make it to give it to someone who may be a bit hungry.



(picture above is the salad which I packed for a few teachers at my daughter's school.)

Orzo with Tomatoes, Feta, and Green Onions (by Giada de Laurentiis)

Makes 8 servings.


Ingredients
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil

6 cups chicken broth (I actually use well salted plain water, not the chicken broth.)
1 pound orzo (or riso)

2 cups red and yellow teardrop or grape tomatoes, halved
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring broth to boil in large heavy saucepan. Stir in orzo, reduce heat to medium, cover partially, and boil until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large wide bowl, tossing frequently until cool.

Mix tomatoes, feta, basil, and green onions into orzo. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Add pine nuts; toss. Serve at room temperature.

Printable recipe

Cook some and use your influence today!

5 comments:

peri said...

It's a good thing that you took photos of the orzo salad because it disappeared quickly. We all devoured it... delicious!!!!!

Tessa said...

Mmm this looks like a simple and great side dish or yummy lunch!

kim said...

I made this tonight to go with your Greek Roasted Chicken - yum! It was great and I was totally amazed to see my 18 month old devour it. Every tomato, green onion and orzo bite vanished... I'll have to make this a regular item on the table!

Lynn :) said...

Hi! How long would this last in a fridge? Would it be a good make ahead food to eat throughout the week? Assuming you are the kind of person who'd get sick of eating the same thing 3 days in a row. :D

Joanne Choi said...

it is a good make ahead food. I've had it in my fridge for about 4 days no problem, although it does taste the BEST on the first day. :)

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