The Last of Summer's Bounty
By Meg Claire
Everyone’s talking about how it’s starting to feel like fall. True, a few early branches are starting to go gold, and I’m seeing signs for country corn mazes and hayrides. Even though mornings are now decidedly cardigan-worthy, the best summer produce of the year is still available at your local farmer’s market.
One of my favorite summery pasta salads forgoes the typical Italian influences, in favor of sweet corn, refreshing cukes, and feathery dill. The original recipe, by one of my cooking heroines Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), contains shrimp which I’ve replaced by similarly textured baked tofu. I’ve also tossed in Jersey corn, which adds color, sweetness and a reminder of summer. This has become my go-to potluck dish because it always turns out well, can be multiplied to the heavens, and is equally loved by vegans, omnis, and everyone in between.
I gotta give Ronzoni credit. Their humble dried orzo is the best that’s widely available. Instead of long and rice-shaped, Ronzoni’s orzo are fat, more pasta-like, and satisfyingly chewy. Give this unique pasta salad a try, and keep enjoying summer’s bounty—at least for another week or two!
Warm Dill Orzo Salad with Baked Tofu
½ pound firm tofu, drained
½ pound Orzo
Kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 ½ lemons)
½ cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium diced
¼ cup small diced red onion
1 ear of fresh corn, off the cob
Make the baked tofu. Preheat the oven to 350F. Blot the excess water off the tofu and slice once horizontally, making 2 slabs. Set them in a baking dish and lightly sprinkle with salt. Brush liberally with soy sauce. Bake for 1 hour, undisturbed. Remove and set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a drop or two of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the orzo and simmer for 9-11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked al dente. Drain and pour orzo into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Pour over the hot orzo and stir well.
Cube the baked tofu. Add to the orzo, and then add the dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, and corn. Toss well. Taste for salt and pepper.
Last call! How are you using the last of summer's bounty?