I've had so many pesto pasta salads at summer potlucks and picnics, and though they're always tasty, I thought it might be fun to play with the basic idea and totally mix up the herbs and vegetables. My husband is an orzo fiend, so I used that, but I should think other small shaped pastas like ditalini, or even Israeli couscous would also be really good. —fiveandspice
8 or so
packed, flat leaf parsley
packed, fresh mint
cloves of garlic, chopped
olive oil, divided
medium zucchinis, cut into quarter inch thick "coins"
yellow summer squash, cut the same way as the zucchini
large Vidalia onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
red chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
ricotta salata, cut into small cubes (or use feta)
In a food processor, pulse together the parsley, cilantro, mint, dill and garlic until finely chopped. Then, add the olive oil in a drizzle while processing to make a smooth herb pistou. Stir in 1/2 tsp. of salt and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente (9-10 minutes). Drain, transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 Tbs. olive oil. Then, add the pistou and toss well.
In a large frying pan heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sliced onion, give a stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook until soft and browned, 10 or so more minutes. Stir in a little pinch of salt. Then, scrape the onions into the bowl with the orzo.
Return the pan to the stove, add the remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil, heat, and then fry the zucchini and summer squash in batches over medium-high heat until golden brown and soft. Remove from the heat and season with a little salt and pepper.
Toss the orzo with the onion, zucchini, and summer squash. Finally, stir in the pistachios and the ricotta salata or feta. Taste and adjust the seasonings if you wish.
Serve warm, or cold, or pack along in a massive Tupperware bowl for a picnic!
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.