What’s Cookin’: Salads are great for summer

Enjoy this zesty and healthy treat this summer.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

It was almost time for the new baby — chubby cheeks, downy-soft hair, baby-powder smell, cuddles and hugs.

Just the thoughts of it were enough to make my 50-something friend nostalgic enough to comment in jest, “I think I’m lactating.” We were at a baby shower a few months ago, thoroughly enjoying a spicy orzo salad with roasted peppers and eggplant. It turns out that the Gram-to-Be had made the tasty salad. Everyone at our table returned to the buffet for “seconds.” Of course, I had to get the recipe to make and to share. No doubt, recently born Baby Conor will enjoy his Gram’s salad sometime in the future.

JEANIE’S ORZO/VEGETABLE SALAD

8 oz. orzo, cooked

3 or 4 roasted red peppers, roast your own (see below)

1 large red onion, 1-inch diced

2 small eggplants, 3/4-inch diced, about 1½ lbs.

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Salt and Pepper

1/3–1/2 cup olive oil

Basil, about 15 leaves, rolled together and cut in strips

4 scallions, minced, include white and green

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

3/4 cup feta cheese, cubed

(Jeanie uses tomato-basil feta)

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and put into a large bowl.

Roast the peppers:

Line a large broiler-safe baking sheet with foil. Spray with oil.

Quarter, stem and seed peppers and place skin side up on baking sheet. Spray tops of peppers with oil. Broil for a few minutes until peppers are blackened. Put them in a paper bag, and when cool, peel them. Cut into 1-inch pieces and add to the orzo bowl.

Use the same baking sheet and add the onions, eggplant and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper, add oil and toss vegetables to mix. Broil at 425 degrees for 40 minutes, tossing vegetables twice during cooking. Add to bowl.

Dressing:

½ cup oil, or more

½ cup lemon juice, or more

Salt and Pepper

Whisk equal parts oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Mix into salad.

Add the basil, scallions, pine nuts and Feta.

Fresh herb and tomato-cheese bread makes a great summer snack.

PISSALADIERE-INSPIRED BREAD

1 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 can black olives, pitted, drained (15 oz.)

1 Tbsp. each basil, thyme and rosemary or half, if using dried herbs

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 can anchovies (2 oz., drained) or paste equivalent

1 loaf French or Italian bread, split lengthwise

4 tomatoes, sliced thin

Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with foil, and spray lightly with oil.

Use a blender and add olive oil, onion, olives, herbs, garlic and anchovies processing to form a paste.

Place bread halves on foil, cut side up, and spread on the herb paste.

Arrange tomato slices evenly on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake 15–20 minutes.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)