Even though I love cooking, there are times I want it to go quickly–especially when I’m hungry, hot, and tired. After a long day, I knew I wanted to build a meal around my favorite pasta, orzo, but wasn’t entirely sure how. A quick Internet search led me to the reliably wonderful 101 Cookbooks. Using what I had on hand, I created something so delicious its fans include carnivorous, clever men (including my love, who christened it), picky 5 year olds, and voracious vegans. If you’re sharing this with anyone, make yourself a generous bowl; there’s liable to be little to no leftovers.
This dish is many delightful things: fast, easy, delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and endlessly adaptable. I already can’t wait to recreate it. In cooler weather, I’ll make it with adzuki beans, roasted butternut squash, pine nuts, lemon thyme, and cranberries. I also dream of it with kale, white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, toasted walnuts, roasted garlic, and caramelized leeks. And so on and so on.
1 cup orzo
1 zucchini, cut into quarters and sliced
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed
8 oz container of cherry tomatoes
3 hearts of palm stalks, sliced (or, pre-sliced equivalent)
? cup slivered almonds (toasted or untoasted–whichever you prefer)
1 handful italian parsley, chopped
1 handful cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
juice of 2 lemons
1 avocado, cut into chunks
¼ cup olive oil
? teaspoon of cayenne (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the orzo in generously salted water for 8 to 9 minutes, or until al dente.
- While it’s boiling, begin chopping garlic, parsley, and cilantro (or, if you have a food processor, throw it all in there and pulse it a few times).
- Slice the hearts of palm. Open the can of chickpeas and rise. Grab your prettiest big serving bowl and add garlic, parsley, cilantro, almonds (toasted if you want), hearts of palm, tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne, and chickpeas.
- Add the zucchini to the boiling water for the last 30 seconds of its boil time. Drain zucchini and orzo in a colander and run cold water over it for about a minute–in the summer heat, this salad wants to be as cool as possible.
- Dump the orzo and zucchini in the bowl and then gently combine all the ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste and top with avocado chunks. Enjoy!