I recently had a mini-getaway to the Hamptons for a badly needed stress break. Clean air and a beachy breeze does wonders for the psyche! I also get slightly giddy over the farmstands and fresh produce that’s so readily available there. One of the local dishes that a friend served me while visiting was a corn and orzo salad picked up from my favorite little market, Round Swamp Farm. That provided the inspiration for this seasonal vegan salad. It’s a perfect fit for the Recipe Redux theme this month: “A Vacation-Inspired Recipe!” And it’s absolutely scrumptious!
Calories saved: 62
Why it’s better for you? I used a whole grain orzo rather than the “white” version–plus added arugula–to boost an array of health-promoting plant nutrients.
- 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat orzo (8 ounces)
- Juice of 1 small lemon* (2 tablespoons juice)
- Juice of 1 lime* (2 tablespoons juice)
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon avocado or grapeseed oil
- 2 cups fresh or frozen thawed organic yellow corn kernels
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts divided
- 5 cups packed baby arugula or mizuna (5 ounces)
- 3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Cook the orzo according to package directions.
- While orzo is cooking, whisk together the lemon and lime juices, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl until combined.
- Drain the orzo. Add the hot orzo to the citrus vinaigrette in the large bowl and stir to coat. Set aside to slightly cool, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- While orzo slightly cools, heat the avocado oil in a large cast iron or other stick-resistant skillet over medium-high. Add the corn and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and sauté until corn begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add white part of the scallions and continue to sauté until the corn is well caramelized (“pan-charred”) and scallion whites are lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes more. Stir into the orzo mixture.
- Chill the orzo-corn mixture in the refrigerator until cool. (Hint: This can be done a day or two in advance, if desired!)
- When ready to serve, stir in the arugula, cilantro, green part of the scallions, and remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Adjust seasoning. If desired, serve lime and lemon wedges on the side.
Per serving: 250 calories, 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 250mg sodium, 38g total carbohydrate, 6g dietary fiber, 3g sugars, 6g protein
*Grate the zest of the lemon and lime before juicing. Use it to season other parts of the meal.
The “Before” Version
I don’t have the original corn and orzo recipe from Round Swamp Farm (it’s probably a secret!). So here’s a similar recipe for nutritional comparison purposes:
Per serving: 312 calories, 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 318mg sodium, 59g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 10g protein
- Use a whole grain instead of “white” pasta whenever you can; it’s not just healthier, it provides a slight nuttier taste
- Caramelize (“char’) corn on occasion to bring out the natural sweetness and add a color dimension
- Rather than a lemon vinaigrette or a lime vinaigrette, combine them together to create a citrus vinaigrette and provide more flavor interest in select recipes, like those that include corn or cilantro
- Add plenty of leafy greens, like baby arugula, to a grain-based salad to boost overall meal appeal while making the serving size significantly larger