Foodie Friday: Adding zest to life, or at least to a good salad

August 5, 2011 | Food, Foodie Friday

I was standing at the counter making a salad the other day when Chiara walked in and asked what I was doing.

“I’m zesting this lemon,” I told her.

“What’s zest?” she asked.

And so I explained how I was taking the very top layer of rind off the lemon without getting any of the bitter white pith underneath.

And then she asked the $64,000 question: “What if someone doesn’t have a zester?”

I gasped. No one should be without a zester! How would I add lemon zest to the fabulous Mediterranean Orzo Salad I’m about to share with you, or the lime zest that gives such kick to my favorite quinoa salad? I don’t want to think about it.

Your assignment this week is to go get a zester, if you don’t already have one, and if you do, for goodness sake, go buy some lemons and get zesting!

Here’s where I put my most recent zest:

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

16 ounces orzo or other small pasta
¼ cup olive oil
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups Kalamata olives, chopped
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 large red onion, finely chopped
½ cup lightly packed chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of sea salt

1. Bring a pot of water to boil, and add salt and orzo. Stir and cook until al dente. Drain well in a mesh strainer, then pour hot orzo into the mixing bowl.

2.While the orzo cooks, stir together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the small bowl. Pour the mixture over the hot orzo and toss. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3.Add the olives, grape tomatoes, onion, and parsley, and stir well. Season with fresh ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt.

4. Just before serving, stir in feta cheese. Serve salad warm, cold, or at room temperature.

On my food radar this week:

I was scrolling around various blogs and following links from one to another and came across a blog called Not Without Salt and this picture of grilled brie topped with fresh figs and honey. Doesn’t it look amazing?

I say that despite the fact that I have never in my life had a fresh fig. My Italian family always used to have figs at holiday meals, but I never tried them. And they weren’t fresh. But this picture makes me want to run out and buy a fig tree. I do love brie, and love the idea of grilling it on my panini press even more. And I’ve got that new jar of Delmar honey just looking for a recipe and a big pot of thyme growing on my back deck. So, really, all I need are those figs.

I’m determined to give this one a try some time soon, although I do have this irrational (?) fear of the brie melting all over the panini press. I’ll let you know what happens. If you want to beat me to it, go for it. Here’s the recipe.

What’s on your food radar this week?

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