After recovering from pork fest 2010, I had to gear up for a backyard barbecue baby shower for one of my besties, Amani. Co-party chef, Cheryl, and I made a bunch of tasty salads, kebabs, and bevies for one hot day. Since we didn't use any recipes, I am providing more of a visual documentation of our buffet. I did manage a separate attempt at the orzo salad today because it was actually pretty tasty and would be nice to have waiting in the fridge on a hot day.
Normally I hate pasta salad because the experience of eating it reminds me of eating Twizzlers, but without the "cherry" flavor. Chewy starch that's under-salted and generally under-flavored is not my idea of a good use of calories (unless the chewy starch is covered in pesto). However, using a smaller pasta like orzo and intensely flavored ingredients like sundried tomatoes and Kalamata olives helps to make every bite delicious.
Full disclosure: This second round of making the orzo salad was actually my third. On Friday night while doing prep, I overcooked the orzo while attempting to make 4 full boxes in a single stock pot. (I didn't realize that I wouldn't then be able to lift the pot of boiling orzo. Ooops.) This latest version didn't turn out quite like the first time, or even the second time, probably because I wasn't stressed out that guests would be arriving while I was still making it. Perhaps adrenaline is the missing ingredient.
White wine sangria with peaches, nectarines, and plums and strawberry lemonade. We made a watermelon lemonade after that ran out...
Watermelon feta salad
Cucumber salad with yogurt, mint, and garlic
The grilled veggies were cooked on separate skewers for even cooking...onion kebabs, squash kebabs, red pepper kebabs...then unskewered for serving.
Chicken and hangar steak were marinated overnight in olive oil, lemon peel, garlic, parsley, oregano, and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice. The kebabs were skewered then seasoned with salt and pepper right before grilling.
Summer Orzo Salad
1 (16-ounce) box dried orzo
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered or 5 plum tomatoes, diced
2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sundried tomatoes packed in oil, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta, goat cheese, or cubed fresh mozzarella
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
15 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Strain into a colander and run under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly.
2. Add the tomatoes, artichokes, olives, and cheese to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the cooked orzo, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and basil. Stir, taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serves 8.