Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Salad

I am SO ready for Spring to get here. Our Ladies Class hosted the Preschool teachers today for a luncheon and I was asked to help with the food preparation. I really love researching recipes and tweaking them to my taste and ideas, and I love putting together menus. This luncheon allowed me to do the best of both worlds. I wanted to do something that just said Spring! I'm so ready for Spring.

I found a recipe for Orzo Salad in a Woman's Day magazine. [ CONFESSION: I read more women s magazines that I do men's, in fact that is all I read magazine-wise. Whew, I feel better now.] After seeing the picture, above, I was convinced that this was what Spring looked like on a plate. I tweaked and added, here and there and came up with a terrific salad that was very well received at the luncheon. This is for sure a keeper!

This salad is best enjoyed the next day, it give the dressing time to get all acquainted with the pasta and veggies. The photo above came from the Women's Day website. I changed the pasta from Orzo to Barilla Miniature Farfalle (bowtie). The main reason is I couldn't find Orzo. I think it turned out better visually, to me anyway. Another tweak is the addition of garlic and basil to the dressing. After reading the recipe I thought that it just sounded kind of flat and bland, I wanted to add some more flavor. Lemon and basil are great companions, garlic is good on a flip flop, so I added those two components to the dressing and it worked great. The only other tweak is the addition of tomato to the salad. I think I may try Parmesan cheese next time.

See the notes below for great hints that will help you be a superstar!

Spring Salad:

1 Tbsp lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup each olive oil and water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 lb farfalle pasta, mini size
8 oz asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-in. pieces
2 cups bagged shredded carrots
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup cherry tomato, chopped

1. Whisk lemon zest, juice, water, garlic, basil, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until blended. Add onions and let stand while pasta cooks.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, return to a boil and cook as package directs; stir in asparagus and carrots 3 minutes before pasta will be done.

3. Cook until pasta and vegetables are just firm-tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain again.

4. Put in bowl with dressing. Add parsley and tomatoes and toss to mix and coat.


This dressing is very thin and absorbs into the pasta and veggies to make for a dry salad. Even though it's not, "dry" by any means because the veggies and pasta has absorbed all the flavor and liquid.

I used one pot of water, got the water to a boil and blanched my asparagus for three minutes, removed with a strainer and plunged in an ice bath. Set those aside, then did the same for the carrots. After the veggies were blanched I cooked the pasta in the seasoned water, then drained that off.

You can find already shredded carrots in the produce section by the carrots usually just above the baby carrots, etc. Some places call them match sticks, either way they are good.

Come Spring!! Come soon.

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