Monday, June 9, 2014

Moroccan orzo salad with roasted corn, zucchini and harissa

Summer is here and the combination of zucchini and corn is on every menu. Today's combination spices a simple orzo salad with the Moroccan spice paste, harissa and some preserved lemons. A generous portion of feta makes this salad complete. It is important to use a good quality spicy harissa, since the flavor of the salad relies a lot on the spiciness of the harissa.

This salad can be made in advance and served at room temperature. The key is to add the hot orzo to the raw shredded zucchini to soften the zucchini a little bit without really cooking it.

Moroccan orzo salad with roasted corn, zuchhini and harissa
3/4th cup orzo
1 medium zucchini
1 fresh corn on the cob
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small preserved lemon
2 teaspoons spicy harissa [I use harissa from Le Pain Quotidien]
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup feta cheese crumbled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
A few grinds of  fresh black pepper
  1. Roast the corn over an open flame. Then shave the kernels with a paring knife, collecting the kernels in the serving bowl.
  2. Cut the zucchini into thin long shreds using a mandoline or a food processor with a wide mouth. A regular shredder will leach too much water from the zucchini and will make the salad mushy. Transfer the shredded zucchini along with the roasted corn into the serving bowl.
  3. Boil the orzo in a large pot of salted boiling water. The Barilla brand takes 9 to 10 minutes for al dente pasta. Drain when cooked and add the hot orzo to the vegetables. The heat from the orzo will wilt the zucchini slightly.
  4. While the orzo is boiling, heat a small saucepan with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil over medium low heat and add the sliced garlic along with a pinch of salt. The salt will help the garlic soften and the low heat will infuse the oil with the garlic flavor without browning the garlic. This should take about 5 to 6 minutes depending on how thin the garlic is sliced. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool. Once cool, mix in the two teaspoons of harissa paste. Pour the mixture of garlic and harissa into the serving bowl.
  5. Remove the seeds and flesh from the preserved lemon. Thinly slice the skin and chop into bits. Toss into the orzo mixture. Gently mix the orzo and the vegetables so that the harissa mixture evenly coats the salad.
  6. Finally add a few grindings of fresh black pepper and another pinch of salt. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta and lightly mix.
Serves 3

Notes: Preserved Lemons can be purchased online at Sur La Table

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