Category Archives: cucumbers

Asparagus & Broccoli Orzo Salad

Not having access to the Internet is a lot more difficult than I thought (well, at least when you’re not on vacation).  Last week was my first at my new job.  After rewriting my name, filling in all the special numbers, having my picture taken, and signing my name about 30 times- I am now allowed to have computer access!  Success!  I felt very out of touch with the world up until today.  Unless someone left a paper copy of an article, or was talking about a specific topic, I had no idea what was going on in the world (yes, that includes the Prince William-Kate wedding gossip).  So for all of those that have had busy days, this is a perfect salad- either to eat during your lunch hour, or enjoy when you get home and don’t have time to do much.

It’s asparagus season!  Last week I saw it for the first time at our Farmer’s Market, so it’s time to get cooking with it.  This is a great spring recipe- light, flavorful and fast.  Although I had made it for friends (when I made this dessert), we had plenty of leftovers for the two of us.  We don’t tend to buy alfalfa sprouts often, just because if you don’t use them fast enough they’ll get all soggy, but this was definitely a fantastic edition to this salad.

Asparagus & Broccoli Orzo Salad
Inspired from: 101 Cookbooks

1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
1 lb asparagus; washed, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups alfalfa sprouts
1 cucumber, quartered and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Bring a large pot to a boil, add 1 tbsp of salt.  Once the water is boiling, add the orzo and cook per package instructions.

This next step can be done in 2 ways:

1) About 30 seconds before the orzo is finished cooking, stir in the asparagus and broccoli.  Cook for 30 seconds, then drain and run cold water over the 3 ingredients.

OR

2) Once the orzo is cooked, drain it and run cold water of the pasta.  Then boil another pot of water, add the asparagus and broccoli for about 1/2-1 minute.  Then drain and run cold water over the vegetables.

In a small bowl whisk together the dressing: lemon juice, olive oil and 2 tbsp of salt.

Add the orzo, asparagus and broccoli to a large bowl.  Then toss those ingredients with the dressing.  Finally, add the alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and feta.  Toss once more for all of the ingredients to mix well.

Cucumber Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a cold, tomato-based soup which originated in Spain.  I spent the summer of 2004 studying abroad in Spain, while living with a Spanish family.  For my first meal with the family, my señora made gazpacho.  Having only had warm tomato soup growing up, I did not like it.  The idea of a cold soup just wasn’t appealing to me.  But she kept making it throughout the summer, and I kept on eating it a little at a time.  After the summer of falling in love with Sevilla, when I arrived back in the US, I realized I began craving gazpacho.

It’s a great summer staple for me: fast, easy, simple.  You can make it ahead and the flavors blend nicely.  It’s perfect when tomatoes are in season, full of flavors.

So when I was flipping through the April’s Cooking Light and saw a cucumber gazpacho, I was excited to try a new version of the cold soup.  The original recipe had shrimp, which is also a great addition, so keep that in mind.

Cucumber Gazpacho
Adapted from: Cooking Light

1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/3 cup cilantro, lightly chopped
2 large cucumbers, lightly chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup onion, chopped
dash of red pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Add all of the ingredients, except the cherry tomatoes, into a blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  Ladle into bowls, and use cherry tomatoes as a garnish.