At this point in the game, I think it’s safe to say we’re now firmly in the throes of a particularly warm summer. It seems a little peculiar to seek relief when the temperatures dip just below 90 degrees, but if mid-80’s feels cool then so be it. Like most city dwellers, we live in an old building that lacks the convenience of air conditioning so on those particularly steamy days, the thought of introducing any more heat to our apartment by turning on our oven is not something that either one of us wants to do. So, we’ve been finding ourselves relying heavily on our grill and when the heat gets too hot, we reach for a chilled grain salad. While you could just sit on the couch with your trusty fan circling its way back and forth while you cool down with popsicle after popsicle, making a quick and easy meal can be achieved with minimal fuss.
Grains and whole wheat have been something that we’ve been infatuated with for some time now. Healthy and in such abundance and variety, we find it hard to get bored with them. We’ll make a big batch of a grain at night when it’s a bit cooler and then we’ll add other fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts to the mix and eat the whole thing chilled. Sometimes some grilled meats work their way into the bowl too; nothing is off limits here. Not only is it easy to throw together, it’s even better when it’s on hand, just hanging out in the refrigerator, waiting for you to scoop out and enjoy.
For this particular salad, we relied on some whole wheat orzo as the base of the salad then we added chunks of avocado, diced roasted red peppers and fresh strawberries, which made for little actual cooking. For added flavor, just some simple fresh lemon juice and shaved Parmesan cheese was added just before we scooped the salad into bowls to enjoy.
Chilled Strawberry Avocado and Orzo Salad
Serves 3-4 people comfortably
- 1 cup whole wheat orzo pasta
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
- ½ cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 roasted red pepper, diced (either roasted yourself or from a jar)
- The juice from 1 lemon
- 2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to the package. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, drizzle evenly with olive oil to prevent sticking and chill pasta in the refrigerator. Just before serving, gently fold in the strawberries, avocado and roasted red pepper. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon. Top with cheese.
Contributed by Chefs Richard Chudy and Katie Barszcz of The Skinny Beet. A native Bostonian, Richard Chudy graduated from the Professional Chef’s Program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in 2007 and started a private chef business. When he’s not busy in the kitchen, he runs Boston Burger Blog, his ongoing quest for the perfect burger in Boston. Katie started her blog, The Small Boston Kitchen, in December of 2009 as a way to document her hours spent in the kitchen, as well as her eating adventures throughout the Greater Boston area. In January 2011, Katie attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, where she received her Culinary Certificate. Katie co-owns a personal chef and catering business, The Skinny Beet