Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pasta Salad for Moms and Kids

Okay - this one turned out grrreat, in my adult opinion. I will post the recipe A. as i made it B. with lots of swappin/adding alternatives.

As i made it, this recipe took about 15 minutes to put together, including cooking times. I DID use both the stove and the oven (sorry) but the real goal of this recipe is to utilize leftover grilled items: you have a fun barbecue with friends and family over the weekend and grill more than you need to have leftover veggies/meat for weekly lunches/dinners. Grilling veggies is a great way to use the last heat of the coals after the meat is all done. In short: do not feel limited by this recipe, instead think of it as a spring board for whatever meats/veggies you like - as well as herbs/seasonings/sauces. As cooked by me this was delicious warm and cold ( i think next time i'll make this as a sauceless summer spaghetti instead of a cold salad ) and appetizing to our adult buds - so alter as needed to make it more kid friendly.

Orzo Salad with Olive Oil and Grilled Veggies/Chicken

  • Whole Wheat Orzo, 1 cup. (1,560 calories! wowee, that pasta packs a punch - but it's mostly protein and fiber, and a whole lotta carbs. Check the Serving Suggestions at the end of the post)
  • 2 zuccinis and one onion
  • 3/4 T Olive Oil (90 calories of good fats)
  • Diced raw carrot
  • Fresh herbs: rosemary, oregano, garlic chives
  • Black olives
  • Salt and pepper
  • Diced garlic, 2 cloves
  • Tiny splash of balsamic vinegar (keep it spare to enunciate the olive oil, add more to make it more zesty)
  • Fresh tomatoes - i used 4 porter improveds
  • Set toaster oven to broil
  • Set a medium pan with salted water to boil.
  • Zuccinis and onion: quarter, season with olive oil (or spray) salt and chilly powder - or whatever seasonings you like! Broil 10 minutes - the length of time to chop the rest of the ingredients and get the pasta going.
  • When water is boiling add orzo, stir, boil 8 minutes, drain, place in bowl which contains:
  • Fresh herbs and diced garlic. I feel adding the hot pasta to the rosemary and garlic mellows the garlic and brings out the essence of the rosemary - so aromatic!
  • Add Olive oil, seasonings, black olives.
  • You may choose to wait and add the onions to the very end on individual plates so as not to offend any youngsters, otherwise remove the veggies from the broiler (remember to turn it off), chop into big chunks and add to the pasta to toss.
  • Toss in leftover meat: chicken, shrimp, tuna, whatever. I used grilled chicken.
  • Save tomatoes and garlic chives for the end once pasta has cooled a bit. (Hint: fresh tomatoes are so full of flavor they tend to take over. If you want to capitalize on the earth essence of the olive oil, you may want to be more sparing with the tomatoes)
  • Cover and stick in fridge to serve as a cold salad, or serve it now! It's delicious!

This recipe is super versatile and can be changed depending on the seasonings or veggies you like or have on hand. It should be treated as a 'what's ripe in the garden' salad, or 'what's left over from this weekend' salad, or 'what will my child eat' salad. The veggies are cut quite large so they're easily picked out, and the orzo is quite small so it's easily avoided.
Perhaps the kiddo hasn't taken a taste for olive oil yet? Replace with Italian Dressing, Balsamic and white wine vinegar, lemon juice, pesto, skip the dressing and just add your favorite salsa or even (eek, gasp) ranch dressing.
Replace or add any veggies/proteins/seasonings you like, raw or grilled:
  • jalapenos
  • bell peppers
  • corn
  • a can of Rotel
  • shrimp
  • ham
  • tofu
  • cheese
  • cucumbers
  • taco seasoning
  • You Name IT!
You can even replace the orzo with bigger pasta. I like the orzo because you can focus on the veggies and just get a little pasta - but bigger pasta goes a lot further if you need to serve more folks.

Serving Suggestion:
For those of us who do not need to be eating a bunch of carbs for dinner, pick out the veggies to serve yourself. The orzo will come along for the ride in much smaller portions, and you'll get a nice big serving of veggies and protein. Alternatively - serve yourself and your child similar portions, and allow any 'pick outs' from his/her plate to adorn yours in a much appreciated acceptance of rejected tasty vegetables.

Total calories as prepared: 1,750 give or take. Most of those calories are the pasta. I served myself mostly veggies with a little orzo, and served the hubby second plus added some homemade cheese to his plate. I gave the hungry man a huge helping, myself a normal helping, with a lunch amount leftover. This could easily be made 4 servings for less hungry folks.

I hear tell Raina turned her nose up to yesterday's post. Cross your fingers for this one!

Do you have a favorite dish to cook for kids, without using heat producing stoves or ovens?

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Thank you so much for your feedback, especially if you've cooked one of my recipes or tried one of my tips: let me know how it turned out!