farmers market orzo salad

I don't go to farmers markets as much as I'd like to. I often wish I was as committed to markets as so many other people seem to be. It's so romantic to think about waking up, grabbing your basket, and heading to the local farmer's market where you see what looks good and buy it while sipping your hand-crafted espresso drink. Produce and other local goodies in hand, you head back home to make a delightful feast for your closest friends. By the time they arrive you have perfect appetizers and specialty drinks set out on the patio that is decorated in lights and fresh flowers straight out of a Bon Appétit magazine photo shoot... Maybe someday that might be my life, but it's certainly not now. I don't go to the farmers market that often. Things get busy. Weekends go by too quickly. It just doesn't happen. It's a bit embarrassing to admit (an acquaintance was once telling me how great a local QFC is, and I asked what the price of an English cucumber is there, since it's a fridge staple of mine, and he replied "Oh. I have no idea. I don't buy produce at the grocery store. We get all our produce from farmers markets. Why of course. Silly me.). I beat myself up about it a good amount. I tell myself that if I was really a foodie, I would be a market regular. Sigh.

So when I do get to the market, I get really excited. Last Sunday, I was giddy to be at the Ballard Farmers Market, and at the top of my list was spring onions, closely followed by rhubarb. After taking in some options, I settled on one vendor with beautiful rhubarb, and he happened to be offering a 2 for $5 deal on his bundles of gorgeous green and white guys. I'm always a sucker for a deal, so I went out of there with approximately 20 onions when I only need 3 for that night's recipe. Yikes.

After using a few in my favorite recipe, the remaining several hung out in my fridge all week long. By last night it was getting sad. They were withering. I needed to use them or they were SOL. And not using the produce I scored at the farmers market would make me feel even worse about myself than I already did for not going to farmers markets enough. I need to make things right. I perused the blogosphere for some inspiration, and settled on making an Asian flavored orzo salad. I was very pleased with the result. It was good enough to make me feel better about myself. I might not go to the farmers market as much as I "should," but I can still whip up a healthy, fresh meal.

Sesame Orzo Salad with Green Onions + Broccoli

  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 1 small head broccoli
  • lots of scallions (I used about 12)
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2T sesame seeds
  • 2T sesame oil (1T x 2)
  • 1T soy sauce
  • Siracha

1. Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently. When light brown, remove from heat and let cool.

2. Chop broccoli and scallions into bite-sized pieces. (A lot of people discard the stems of each, but I always try to use as much of vegetables as possible.)

3. Bring water to a boil and add orzo. Cook to desired al dente-ness. Make sure you don't cut the cooking time short; crunchy orzo is no good.

4. When orzo is near done, add the broccoli to the water. Drain all and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.

5. Heat 1T sesame oil in a non-stick pan or wok over high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are lightly browned and charred in places. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

6. In a large boil, combine sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, and a dash of siracha. Chop cucumber and add to bowl. Add orzo and broccoli. Mix well. Add additional siracha and salt + pepper as desired.

Serves 2-3; easily doubled.