Summer Salad

Melissa Singleton with Orzo Salad with Roasted Summer Vegetables

Melissa Singleton sees the beauty in food, and the power a shared meal has in adding joy to life.

Photography by Beau Gustafson

My degree and career in interior design have meshed with my desire to create and enjoy the beauty of food,” Singleton says. “I am a self-taught cook and have enjoyed many different experiences in the culinary world. I have had the pleasure of spending two weeks in Paris learning from individuals, dining with friends in the French countryside. Locally I’ve participated in a cooking co-op, taught cooking classes in my home, and enjoyed being an assistant to Little Savannah’s Clif Holt with his classes. He even had me on the deep fryer one night at Little Savannah. The main joy I receive from cooking is sharing it with my children, family and friends. My kitchen is always full of little ones wanting to help, then vying for a spot at the table. Joie de vivre!”

This salad recipe is a variation of a dish prepared at a specialty food store in Nantucket, “Que Sera Sarah.” It is a favorite during the summer, since all of the vegetables are in season and readily available at local farmers markets. Since it is served at room temperature, it is easily transported for outdoor dining or picnics. It is a wonderful dish paired with anything grilled and a hit with vegetarians too, Singleton says.

Orzo Salad with Roasted Summer Vegetables:

Recipe serves 8.

1 small eggplant, peeled and 1-inch dice

1 red bell pepper, 1-inch dice

1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch dice

1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch dice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound orzo

Lemon Dressing:

The juice of two large lemons

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

To garnish:

4 scallions, sliced (use entire scallion)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

3/4 pound block feta cheese, diced

15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the eggplant, peppers, red

onion and garlic on a baking sheet. Combine with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, turning vegetables once. They should be slightly browned. Cook orzo in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Rinse lightly and drain. Transfer to a large serving bowl. When the vegetables are roasted, add them to the orzo, making sure to scrape all the liquid and seasoning from the baking sheet into the bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the orzo and vegetables. Combine gently. Let the salad cool to room temperature and then add the pine nuts, scallions, basil and feta and toss. Check for seasonings.

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