I recently read an article listing the top reasons people give for boycotting home entertaining. It was a fascinating piece, and stated that, in general, most folks are more concerned about the cleanliness of their home - and the size - then they are about the fun that comes with sharing a meal with the people they care about. I’ve been guilty of that myself, of course, but have since learned that no one really notices the nine pairs of grubby sneakers on the front porch or the collection of crumbs under the table, and if they do they don’t care, because chances are they have similar situations happening in their own homes.
Next to the mess factor, the second cause for people shying away from hosting duties is because it takes too much work to make enough food to feed a crowd. While I don’t deny that there is labour involved, there are plenty of ways to make it a little less daunting, and it starts with planning a meal that can be made in advance.
It took me several years, and many afternoons, to discover how much easier it is to feed friends when a meal is made mostly ahead of time. In the winter this can be done with a braised dish that is gently reheated just before serving, and over the summer months I like to prepare by cooking up grain, pasta, or bean salads a day or two in advance. Not only do the flavours fuse together over time to create a tastier dish, but you only need to unwrap and serve your salads when party time comes around.
I’m partial to an orzo salad, for a few reasons:
- It’s quick cooking and inexpensive
- It fits nicely on a spoon unlike other larger pastas, which can be unwieldy to eat.
- It tastes great with any combination of vegetables and herbs.
- It travels well.
The last point is particularly important; even if you choose not to entertain, you might still be in charge of bringing a dish to a family picnic or a potluck with friends. Summer is short, and if you don’t want to spend your time in the kitchen cooking, then this salad is probably for you.
I’m curious, what, if anything, stops you from entertaining?
Orzo Salad with Cucumber, Feta, Lime and Mint
- 2 cups orzo
- ¾ cup thinly sliced radishes, quartered
- 1 cup Kirby cucumbers, thinly sliced, halved
- 1 cup crumbled feta
- 3 green onions, ends removed and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves
Cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain well and run under cold water to cool the pasta. Drain again and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the radishes, cucumbers, feta, and green onions. Pour the lime juice and olive oil over the salad. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings if required. Garnish with the mint and serve, or refrigerate until needed.
Note: Reader Leah tried the recipe and recommends making the salad in advance, but dressing it just before serving to keep the flavours fresh and bright. I like that idea, and if time allows I suggest doing the same.