Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Feta, Artichoke Hearts, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

D&D_1854So we had an abundance of feta cheese at the office – it is a long story, but I decided to make something of it. For Easter I thought a pasta salad would be good, but something light and fresh. So here is what I did. Another non-recipe recipe, but there it is.

8 ozs Orzo, al dente
1/2 pound asparagus, blanched until bright green (30 second – 1 minute) and the cooled, cut into 1 inch pieces
16 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and diced, or frozen
1/2 8.5 oz jarred sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut, drained*
2 Tbs minced chives
Feta crumbles from the office – not sure how much, but just make it look good with the color contrast

Vinaigrette –
juice and zest of one lemon
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup minced chives
salt/pepper to taste**

While the orzo is cooking, mix together vinaigrette ingredients in a decent sized serving bowl.  Once orzo is drained, add the hot pasta to the vinaigrette. Let the orzo soak up all that flavor. All that lemon.

Mix in all the other pasta salad ingredients and serve at room temperature.

What could be easier? I am not entirely sure especially since I had it all on hand – thanks work for the feta. Have to take the perks when you get them.

I feel proud of this – I mixed a lot of things together and it really worked.  Thank you Nigella for the vinaigrette recipe.

*I usually use dried tomatoes that I rehydrate in hot water, but this time oil-packed made more sense to me.

** I hate this expression. Do people not really know to taste things and season them with salt and pepper if necessary. Or maybe add more acid with some lemon or vinegar. Now I am being that food person that everyone says I am. Sigh.

Parmesan Shortbread – Nigella

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Parmesan Shortbread

Parmesan Shortbread
Commentary: I just can’t help it. I love the way Nigella Lawson writes her recipes, “as uniform as possible without stressing over it…” That’s my idea of how to make things. It’s food. It should just be fun to do – if not, why are you bothering with it. I know it’s a cliche, but just keep it simple, really. Do love the use of the word cling film (is it a single word or not?).

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • 7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk

Mix all the ingredients together – using bowl and spoon, electric mixer or food processor as wished – until a golden dough begins to form a clump.

Turn it out onto a surface and knead for about 30 seconds until smooth, then divide into two.

Take the first half and, using your hands, roll it into a cylinder, as uniform as possible without stressing over it, about 3cm / 1¼ inches in diameter. Make sure the ends are flat, too, so that the cylinder resembles a roll of coins. Now roll this up in a piece of clingfilm, twisting the clingfilm at the ends, like a Christmas cracker, and put the roll in the fridge, then proceed in the same way with the remaining half of the dough.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF while the wrapped cylinders of dough rest in the fridge for about 45 minutes, by which time you should be able to cut them into thick slices easily: aim for about

1 cm / ½ inch thick.

Arrange on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, and put in the oven for 15–20 minutes, when they should be just beginning to turn a pale gold at the edges.

source: Nigella

Notes: I think this recipe needed a little salt, perhaps just before the go in the oven – a little Maldon wouldn’t be misplaced. I’m a bit of a cheese cracker nut and did a total nerdy “cracker challenge” in 2012 and discovered that I like some nuts in my cheese crackers, so I put a bit of pecan on these. I think it made them a bit “prettier” or something like that. When I do them again, some cayenne will be involved.

That said, they went over very well as I made them. And they looked pretty damn good.