Thanks for all your congratulations! I’m still a little sore from the race, but in all the right places (muscles, not joints). I haven’t run again yet, but I’ll likely be back at it today or tomorrow. I’m even considering running my town’s 5k on Sunday– it’s kind of soon, but I’ve never run a 5k race and it’s supposed to be a fun one.
A lot of people have mentioned the shirts we made and have asked about whether I’ll be selling them. I’ve thought about this in the past but figured nobody would want a shirt from a blog. All the interest and the compliments I got during my race, however, have made me realize that it’s more than that; it’s a way to tell others about your diet and lifestyle, and if you run, bike, or play any sports, it’s a great way to say “Look, you don’t need meat to do this.”
So I’ve decided to get a small run of them made so that others can get the same warm and fuzzies that I did. Even a few non-vegetarian runners told me they thought it was awesome that I could eat this way and run like I did!
Orzo with Avocado and Feta
For dinner last night, I found this great-looking orzo and vegetable dish in a Williams-Sonoma Pasta cookbook. But after I bought the ingredients and started to make it, I realized that it’s an orzo salad, as in raw vegetables. I’ve only recently become a tomato fan, and I’m still not too keen on them raw, so I made a few changes to the recipe and it turned out to be a really good dish. Kind of a salad-meets-pasta-in-a-dark-alley, and simple to prepare. Plus all kinds of good stuff: avocados, tomatoes, garlic, shallots, jalapeno, orange, lemon zest, and feta cheese. Hot damn I love eating this way!
To put an end to my own confusion about what orzo actually is, I looked it up and found out that it’s a rice-shaped pasta. Interesting, since I found it in the bulk grains section of my natural foods store. You’ve probably had orzo before in rice pilaf, but maybe not by itself.
The biggest change I made was letting the vegetables “cook” in the orange juice for a while with some salt, to draw out some juices and make a little dressing. And I didn’t run the orzo under cold water to stop it from cooking; I added it to the vegetable mix when it was still hot. Finally, I reduced the amounts of shallot and garlic that went in, since I wasn’t too jazzed about breathing fire after eating these raw. And unlike so many of my other kitchen experiments, it all worked. Really nicely. Would have been great with a little white wine!
This meal definitely gets four cows out of five from me. The creamy tanginess of the feta cheese does a perfect job of bringing it all together. Erin liked it even more than I did, going back for seconds (or was it thirds?). Ok, so did I. Make it tonight, and see for yourself how hard it is to resist!
Here’s my version of the recipe, adapted from the Williams-Sonoma one.
Orzo Salad Recipe
Ingredients (for 4-6 servings)
- 1 lb orzo
- 1/2 cup canola or olive oil
- 2 avocados (if they’re ripe, they’ll dent slightly when you press them)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- juice of 1 orange
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5 oz crumbled feta cheese (French, not Greek, is creamiest)
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano
In a large bowl, combine half the oil, the tomatoes, garlic, shallot, jalapeno, orange juice, lemon zest and a few generous pinches of salt (maybe 1 Tbsp). The salt will draw out the juice of the tomatoes to form a dressing. Let it sit while you prepare the orzo and the avocado.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and orzo. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until al dente (don’t overcook it!). While it’s cooking, chop the avocado into small dice (if you’ve never used avocado before, look up how to do it on the internet; my cooking tips post is coming soon and will explain this and lots of other stuff).
When the orzo is done, drain with a fine strainer and add orzo, feta cheese, and remaining oil to bowl with vegetables. Mix everything well, being careful not to smash all the avocado pieces, add oregano and salt to taste. Eat outside with a glass of white wine.