Resorting to Plan B.... Greek Orzo Salad

On Monday night, I had originally planned to make a delicious-sounding vegetarian dish called Orange-Scented Eggplant and Couscous Rolls, topped with a nice marinara sauce, but the thinly sliced eggplant burned quickly in the oven, and since I only had one eggplant on hand, I had to come up with a backup plan. In the spirit of "keeping it real," my charred results are documented for all to see and for me to learn from. So much for multi-tasking in the kitchen.

The night before, we had hosted a family get-together to celebrate Corbin and my niece Sara's graduation from high school and this Greek orzo salad was delicious. I paired it with pulled pork, cheesy cornbread, grilled asparagus and salad. Easy and make-ahead so it simplified things at busy dinnertime. Probably the biggest hit of the night, however, was something I can't even take credit for making but at least I know where to buy it: a towering carrot cake from a new bakery in Toronto, Bobbette and Belle, although I'm now kicking myself for not taking pix of how beautiful it was, topped with nuts scattered over a burnt caramel sauce that spilled down the sides of the cream-cheese icing. But even more importantly, it knocked our collective socks and tastebuds off and we all thought it's one of the best carrot cakes we've ever had. We also tried their sublimely pastel-coloured macarons (the pistachio, caramel, hazelnut and chocolate ones) and melt-in-your-mouth raspberry and coconut marshmallows. We had eaten their scones and clotted cream at our Royal Wedding breakfast party a few weeks back and I haven't been disappointed in anything that comes out of their beautiful shopdoors. Free advertisement but totally deserving.

adapted from Giada de Laurentis

serves 6

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups rozo

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved

3/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

about 3/4 cup red wine vinaigrette, recipe follows

Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the orzo, cover and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer to a large bowl and toss it until it cools slightly.

Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.

Red wine vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp honey

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Rest of the week

June 10 Nobody home for dinner... everyone vanished

June 11 Quentin grilled sausages and baked potatoes and made a tossed salad while Maddie and I were at Glee

June 12 Corbin and Sara's graduation dinner.... pulled pork, cheese and scallion cornbread, grilled asparagus, Karen's famous caesar salad, Greek orzo salad, carrot cake, macarons and raspberry and coconut marshmallows