Pass the Salad, Please

5.23.2012

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One of the greatest gifts of summer, in my opinion, is the change of pace in food. It's completely acceptable to have watermelon juice running down your white shirt and maybe even a BBQ stain or two from the neighborhood grilling gathering. Your good deed for the day may be supporting the local kids' piggy banks while quenching your own thirst by buying a cup of fresh lemonade from the nearby stand. And nothing beats the heat (or lifts my spirits) quite like a trip to the ice cream shop. But, there's one kind of dish that ranks high in my summer foods list in many regards and that's summer salads. They've got just about everything going for them with good taste, flavor, nutrition value, and color appeal.

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My mom asked me to whip together a quick dinner the other night, so I turned to the salad bowl for this suppertime SOS. I included spinach leaves, walnuts, raspberries and blackberries, feta cheese, and avocado tossed in a light raspberry walnut vinaigrette. It tasted just about as good as it looked, especially with grilled salmon filets resting on top of these greens.

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And tonight, we had what's arguably my favorite salad of all time. After my sister featured this orzo pasta salad on her blog, my mom started making it on the reg, partly because I put it in such high demand. It became an excellent substitute in my brown bag for the ordinary pb&j come the end of high school. It's light, fresh, and includes some of my favorite ingredients with arugula, feta, dried cranberries, and pine nuts. Tonight we added shrimp for our protein fix, but chicken is always an easy go-to to make a meal out of this dish. 

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Simply, get some water boiling. 

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Add a pound of orzo pasta, which can be found at your local supermarket.

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Once it's cooked and drained, spread the orzo on a cookie sheet like so, and drizzle extra virgin olive oil all over the pan. 

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Then, allow it to sit and cool for a couple of hours. 

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Once it's cool, add all of the other ingredients. Specific measurements and the recipe in full can be found here

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So if you're temperature gauge resembles anything to us Texas folk, take heart in the crisp and cool cuisine when the dog days of summer roll around. While every season brings its unique tastes and flavors with it, summer foods always bring the best memories, with many meals shared with good company, on vacation, and for this summer, not in the Hardin dining hall and in the comfort of my home. Bon app├ętit!


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