There is something whimsical about al fresco dining in the summertime. Warm breezes, fireflies, colorful seasonal produce and cold drinks to wash them all down. I adore early evening grilling in my backyard, managing the squishing of butts into the benches of my purple picnic table, lighting of citronella and swatting of mosquitos. But, I also enjoy packing a picnic for other scenic sites around town – the grass is equally green (with fewer holes from doggy digging!) As Center City Park programming becomes increasingly popular I’ve made no excuse but to visit frequently – especially considering my proximity to Downtown from Mendenhall.
I thought these jars of Greek salad in mason jars where particularly charming and perfect for an outdoor picnic at Center City Cinema. The jars are a perfect (and sustainable way) to avoid junky looking and floppy paper plates. Additionally, I made these salads the night before and they remained fresh for two days! I had a leftover salad the following Saturday (which I dumped onto the plate below) and the lettuce was still crisp! I’ll reuse the jars over and over this summer for more portable meals. Invest in a couple of jars and get creative, you’ll feel like a true Southerner (they are great to drink sweet tea out of too!)
Greek Salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas from Gourmet Magazine, August 2008
- 3/4 cup orzo
- 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 large tomato, diced (1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and diced (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
- 2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped romaine
- 1/2 pound feta, crumbled (1 cup)
- 4 to 8 peperoncini
Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.
Toss black-eyed peas, tomato, and parsley with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Marinate, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss together orzo, remaining tablespoon oil, cucumber, olives, onion, lemon zest and juice, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Divide black-eyed-pea mixture (with juices) among jars and layer orzo salad, romaine, and feta on top. Add 1 or 2 peperoncini to each jar.