Israeli Couscous & Orzo Salad with Fresh Mozzarella, Corn & Cherry Tomatoes

October 15, 2013

IMG_4081

This lovely pasta salad, chock full of fresh vegetables and herbs, practically screams summer. And although I am ready for some Fall weather, it is still fairly warm around here, so this salad would still be very welcome at any picnic or potluck to which you may find yourself invited. The combination of the zesty grilled corn, tangy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and herbs is nothing short of addictive.

IMG_4087

Now I should mention, this recipe makes a whole bunch of this salad. If you’re only making it for a couple of folks, you might want to cut it in half. Either that or content yourself with the knowledge that you’ll be nibbling on it all week, which isn’t a bad thing at all! The original recipe recommends that you use raw corn, straight from the cob. No cooking necessary. However, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been a bit obsessed with grilled corn and think that is the best way to go. However if you find yourself pressed for time, you could go with the raw option or just use some canned or frozen corn and you will still find this salad to be quite a delightful, healthy and refreshing summer time treat!

IMG_4094

Israeli Couscous & Orzo Salad with Fresh Mozzarella, Corn & Cherry Tomatoes

recipe from: The Cafe Sucre Farine

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Israeli Couscous
  • 8 ounces Orzo
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over pasta
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch green (spring) onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 ears fresh corn, shucked, grilled (see Tex-Mex Grilled Corn instructions here) and kernels cut from cobs or use 2-3 cups canned corn
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained (if in brine) and cut in bite sized pieces
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • small fresh herb leaves, if desired, for garnish
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove top. Add a generous measure of salt (about a tablespoon) and return to a boil. Add couscous and orzo, allow water to return to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes or until al dente. Stir frequently while pasta is cooking. Drain well and drizzle with olive oil, just a teaspoon or two to keep the pasta from sticking together.Stir to coat well to coat and allow to cool.

Combine the ⅓ cup olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, lemon zest, Italian seasoning, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl.

Add halved tomatoes, green onions, corn and pastas. Stir to combine. Taste and add more sea salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
Add fresh mozzarella cubes and stir gently. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Add fresh herb leaves for garnish, if desired. Drizzle with a bit more extra virgin olive oil and serve.
Enjoy!

Summer Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

October 2, 2013

IMG_4210

Just the other day after a notably chilly dog walking session, I was just thinking that summer was gone. I didn’t really want to say it out loud because I was afraid I would jinx it, but I think I might have murmured something to that effect to the husband. Apparently that was all it took because I see that the temperature will be shooting back up to 85° F (29° C) on Wednesday. That doesn’t really seem to be fitting weather for October if you ask me. But I really don’t like summer weather (as I’m sure those who know me have heard before) and was really looking forward to Fall. There are a couple of things I will miss about summer though. No…not the humidity or the rabid mosquitoes (may their wings freeze off soon…), it is the fresh tomatoes, corn and zucchini. We have really enjoyed eating those veggies this summer. In fact, Jay and I actually took a stab at growing our own tomatoes and herbs this year. Yup, we were “plastic farmers”. (ie. we grew our plants in plastic containers on the deck, rather than planted properly in the ground). It was overall pretty successful.

IMG_4190

Our cherry tomato plants went wild and gave us all we could eat, that is all we could eat that I managed to pluck off the vine before the birds and chipmunks, who were quite fond of them as well, were able to get at them.

Tomato thief!

Tomato thief!

Luckily I had come across this recipe for Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette in Bon Appetit magazine, so I was somewhat ready for our bumper crop of tomatoes. This Vinaigrette is really delicious and so versatile. The majority of the time that I made it, we tossed it with pasta, feta cheese, fresh basil and chives to make a lovely Summer Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad.

IMG_4235

This salad was great warm or room temperature. In fact, I might have seen my husband eat it cold right out of the fridge on the rare occasion that we had any leftovers. But there are lots of other ways to use this vinaigrette, like simply as a tangy salad dressing. Or it is great as a condiment over omelets or grilled steak. We never got tired of it. I certainly will still be making it this winter. Though it won’t be quite as fun using those store-bought tomatoes as it was using the ones we grew ourselves. Make up a batch of this vinaigrette soon and I just bet you’ll be hooked as well!

IMG_4254

Summer Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. pasta of your choice (I used Gemelli)
  • 1 batch of Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

Prepare Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette (without chives). Set aside.

Cook pasta and drain.

Toss Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette and feta cheese with pasta.

Add handful of fresh basil and chives just before serving.

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon (or more to suit your taste) red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions:

Cut half of cherry tomatoes in half. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add halved and whole tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to release juices, 4-6 minutes. Mash some of the tomatoes with a spoon.

Add 1 Tablespoon vinegar and remaining 2 Tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper and add red pepper flakes if you would like to spice it up a bit!  Serve warm or room temperature; add chives just before serving.

*This vinaigrette can be made (without the chives) 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and stir in chives.

Enjoy!


%d bloggers like this: