Orzo Salad With Lentils and Zucchini
The key to vibrant yet substantial summer salads is to mix raw and cooked ingredients and incorporate as many textures as possible. This one achieves that abundance in a streamlined manner by cooking lentils and orzo together in one pot. Start with the lentils, then add the orzo partway through cooking so both become tender at once. (You can do the same with any boiling ingredients.) The chewy orzo and velvety lentils then meet crisp, raw zucchini, crunchy nuts, and the pep of pickled peppers, scallions, lemon and a whole lot of fresh herbs — none of which requires more than a little chopping from you. Eat this protein-rich salad on its own, or add soft-boiled eggs, tinned fish, feta or Pecorino, as you wish.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
- 1cup green or brown lentils
- 1cup orzo
- ½cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼cup lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
- ¼cup sliced pickled pepperoncini (about 6 to 8 peppers)
- Black pepper
- 1pound zucchini and/or summer squash, preferably small to medium, trimmed
- ⅔cup raw pistachios or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 3scallions, thinly sliced
- 1cup firmly packed whole herb leaves, such as basil, mint, dill, parsley, tarragon, oregano or a mix
Step 1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for 9 minutes, then add the orzo and cook until the lentils and orzo are cooked through but not mushy, another 10 to 12 minutes.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the oil, lemon juice and pepperoncini. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. If using small or medium zucchini, halve them lengthwise, then slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons. (If using large zucchini, quarter them lengthwise first, then slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick triangles.) Add to the dressing and stir to combine.
Step 3Drain the lentils and orzo very well, then add to the zucchini, along with the pistachios and scallions. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs just before serving. Eat warm or at room temperature. (Salad keeps, refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature and adjust seasonings before eating.)