I’ve been making this salad for 20 years and have tweaked it enough times to make it my own by now. This salad is best at the height of summer, when fresh corn, beans and tomatoes are at their peak of flavor. I often use raw green beans, cut into the size of peas, which makes this salad even quicker to prepare and fresher in flavor. It’s a classic taste of the season.
Summer Orzo Salad
- 1/2 cup tarragon vinegar (use white wine vinegar if you can’t find tarragon, then bump up the use of the fresh tarragon)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoon fresh tarragon, plus more for the final sprinkling
- 1 cup good olive oil
- 1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed and ends picked or trimmed off, cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths
- Coarse sea salt for cooking the beans and the pasta
- 1 cup dried orzo pasta
- 3 ears fresh corn, husked, cleaned of silk
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (12 ounces), cut in half
- 1/2 cup minced shallots (you can also use chives or green onions)
To make dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients or vigorously shake them together in a jar. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. You will need to shake or whisk it again each time you use it.
To make salad:
Bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Add beans to boiling water and cook until barely tender to bite, 3-5 minutes. Drain and immerse in ice water until cold to stop the cooking and “shock” in the bright green color; drain well and pat dry.
Fill same pan with 3 quarts well-salted water or flavorful broth and bring to a boil over high heat. (You can reuse and add to the green bean water if you want to conserve.) Add orzo and cook about a minute shy of the package directions or to just al dente (about 8 minutes).
Drain well. Once cooled a little, toss with about 1/3 cup of the dressing and spread out on a sheet pan sprayed with good olive oil to cool.
Meanwhile, cut the corn off the cobs, holding each cob upright in a large, deep bowl, or a Bundt pan to catch the falling kernels; cut off kernels close to the cob.
To assemble and serve:
In a large, wide bowl, mix all of the components together with half cup of the dressing. Cover and reserve the last of the dressing and the salad in the fridge until just prior to serving. Shortly before serving, sprinkle in some fresh tarragon and if it needs a bit more dressing, add that in a little at a time until the salad is nicely covered, though not soupy. Mix gently to blend and adjust seasoning to taste.