Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Rapini and Orzo Salad
On Sunday my knitting circle decided to forego our usual knitting and wine drinking (I'm sure it doesn't surprise any of you that my knitting circle meets in a wine bar) in order to have a yarn swap in the park (I realized after reading a comment that I had neglected to mention this...). We all brought a dish to pass, a blanket, a few skeins of yarn left over from projects, given to us by friends, or that we had just picked up at the yarn store because "it looked pretty", and (of course) some discretely hidden wine.
I love the idea of taking things that you don't use and trading them for things that you will--clothes and shoes that have become not quite your style anymore, fruits that you canned to much of, books that you've read but probably won't read again... All the better if you're doing it with a bunch of wonderful people with whom you have a shared interest. Even better, they all brought food. Real food. Sometimes you go to a potluck and everyone brings a package of store-bought hummus and some pita chips. These women are amazing.
We had barbecued tofu, grilled broccoli, artichoke dip with veggies, peanut noodle salad, faux gras (not a typo), crackers, coleslaw, vegan chia seed chocolate pudding, cupcakes, cookies, mango...And, of course, wine. Or as one of the women calls it, "knitting juice".
I brought this salad along with me. This salad is like that shirt that you spot on the sale rack at Ann Taylor Loft and think "wow! This is totally me!" and then you get it home, try it on the next day and realize there's something just not right about it. You know, the kind of shirt you'd fix if you were Emily, but if you were me you'd just give it to a clothing swap and have that be that. Luckily I'm much better at adjusting recipes to my taste than clothing. (OK...not a perfect metaphor, but I had to segue somehow...Keep reading. I tie it all in. I promise.)
I saw this recipe and immediately pinned it. Then when I went and looked more closely at it, I wasn't thrilled. It had a lot of things I liked...it just needed something extra. I've modified the cooking method slightly (cooking the rapini separately so it's easier to get all of the water out, making your dressing less watery), adding some ingredients (lemon zest, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, parsley, and almonds), and just generally turning this into a heartier, but still light, dish.
This recipe has been shared with My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Hearth & Soul Blog Hop, and Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Heather of Girlchef
Rapini and Orzo Salad
Adapted from Eating Well
1 bunch of rapini (broccoli rabe), well washed and chopped
3/4 c whole wheat orzo
a splash of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t red pepper flakes (I used 1/4 t chopped dried Joe's long cayenne pepper left over from last summer)
zest of one lemon
1-14-oz can or 2 c cooked cannellini beans (baby limas might also be good here), drained and rinsed
1/4 c chopped Italian (flat leaved) parsley
1/3 c slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 c crumbled feta cheese
For the dressing:
2 T olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/4 t fine grained sea salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 t chopped fresh oregano (1/2 t dried)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the rapini by boiling for three minutes and then draining and rinsing with cold water. Get as much water out of the rapini as possible by either squeezing the water out or by using a salad spinner (my preference). You can do this part in advance.
Cook the orzo according to package directions--my gut says don't cook it in the same water you cooked the rapini in because it will be bitter. I could be wrong here. Drain and rinse with cold water.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the rapini: heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for a minute. Add the rapini, lemon zest, and a bit of salt. Saute for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.
Toss together the pasta, beans, sauteed rapini, and parsley. Toss with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning (hold back on the salt a bit--you're going to add feta!). Add the almonds and cheese. Toss again.
Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side
And by the way, here's what I got from the swap:
I think it wants to be this when it grows up. Thoughts?
What's your favorite dish to bring to a pot luck? Do you do swaps of any kind (book, food, yarn, clothing)? Do you like them?