If that sounds like you, consider this dish a compromise.
The problem for me (and for many of you, I’d bet) is that the actual raw food itself isn’t so appealing. When I get home from a long day of math and running, dinner had better be on the table and it had better be HOT, dammit!
I’m kidding, of course. Running and math aren’t exactly working in the salt mines, and I’m a nice husband who cooks his fair share of meals. But I’m serious about the “hot” part.
Eating raw food feels good. But it doesn’t feel quite as good as eating a hot, cooked meal, at least not to me. That’s why I get my raw mainly in the form of salads and fruits. It’s not even close to a raw-food diet, but it’s the best I can do.
A Semi-Raw Meal Worth Trying
So here’s a way to get some raw food and some hot food in the same meal. (Raw foodists, go ahead and laugh at it, since it has cooked orzo in it. I need baby steps.)
The meal comes from the cookbook Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce that Wiley sent me to try out. The book is essentially an encyclopedia of different vegetables and fruits, with buying and storage information, nutrition facts, cooking tips, and a few recipes featuring each one. It’s not completely vegetarian, but from what I can tell, the vast majority of the recipes are. And there are lots of meatless options provided, presumably to quell the angry vegetarian mob who might have brought home the book based solely on its title.
This Summer Squash Orzo Salad is from the Summer Squash section. All the vegetables are uncooked, but because they’re tossed in some lemon juice and salt, their softened so that they don’t seem raw. The meal is actually similar to another orzo salad recipe with raw vegetables I posted a long time ago. But this one has a lighter, more summery flavor, and more fresh vegetables.
Here’s the recipe. In order to reprint it exactly, I’ve included the salami that’s in the original (but there’s a meatless tip for omitting it). This one’s a cinch to make; the instructions are so pedantic a five year-old could follow them. Try it out and get halfway raw tonight.
(Note: Since it’s technically a salad, you might need to add a little something on the side to make it a full dinner.)
Summer Squash Orzo Salad
(From Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce, Cathy Thomas, copyright 2010 Melissa’s Produce, published by Wiley)
Yield: 6 servings
- 8 ounces orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
- 2 medium yellow crookneck squash, trimmed, diced
- 2 medium zucchini, trimmed, diced
- 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lenghwise
- Minced zest of 1 lemon (colored portion of the peel)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 4 cups baby spinach or mixed baby greens
- 1 ounce salami, cut into 1/8-inch dice (See Meatless Tip)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Garnish: 1/2 cup unpitted olives, such as kalamata or Nicoise
- Optional garnish: microgreens
1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil on high heat. Add orzo and cook according to package directions until al dente (tender but with a little bite). Drain, refresh with cold water. Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Set aside.
2. Place zucchini, crookneck squash, onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Gently toss. In small bowl or glass measuring cup with handle, combine zest, juice, 3 tablespoons oil, salt, black pepper to taste, and parsley. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour on vegetables and toss. Add orzo and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning.
3. Divide spinach between 6 small plates. Top with vegetable-orzo mixture. Sprinkle each serving with diced salami and crumble cheese on top. Place a small pile of olives off to the side of each salad. If desired, scatter some microgreens (tiny immature greens) on top of salad.
Meatless Tip: Omit salami. If desired, use 1 cup pitted olives in the salad instead of the 1/2 cup as a garnish.