Monday, June 27, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad

This Barefoot Contessa recipe is one of my favorite things in the whole world, so I can't believe I haven't posted it already. I've changed it up a bit with the vegetables and proportions, but the main idea is the same. It's great with grilled Italian sausage for a summer meal or by itself for lunch. Sometimes I add grilled or roasted chicken to the salad itself. It's a great combination of tart lemon, salty feta, and fresh vegetables. I think it's especially clever that she adds pine nuts - they are almost identical to the cooked orzo, so they are a delicious surprise.

A note about pine nuts: try to avoid buying them from China. Chinese pine nuts can cause "pine nut mouth" in some people: an unpleasant, metallic taste in the mouth that is harmless but can last for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, pine nuts are really expensive right now, but you don't need to use a lot in this recipe.

You can change the amounts or types of vegetables in this recipe - it's very flexible.

2-4 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-4 yellow squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1-2 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1-2 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 red or white onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
16 oz. orzo

For the dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:
4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4-1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup feta (use more or less to taste
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne or ripped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until tender and lightly browned, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water according to package directions, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pine nuts, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Korean BBQ Beef (Bulgogi)

I first had bulgogi in Chicago's Koreatown with my college roommate. The tender, flavorful beef, grilled tableside and accompanied by panchan (side dishes) and rice and lettuce for wrapping, was delicious and memorable. I've made it a few times recently on the grill, and I love it, in spite of the messy production it is to eat it.

If you have a Korean grocery store near you (like Super HMart), you can buy bulgogi beef. Otherwise, use sirloin or flank steak (my choice). Slice the steak thinly - no more than 1/4 inch thick. Cut it against the grain and marinate it overnight or all day if possible. It will cook in a few minutes on the grill.

Serve the meat with steamed white rice, red or green leaf lettuce, and hot sauce (chili-garlic sauce like Sriracha).


1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place the beef in a shallow dish. Combine soy sauce, sugar, green onion, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and ground black pepper in a small bowl. Pour over beef. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grate.
3. Quickly grill beef on hot grill until slightly charred and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side.