But it's not just the tourists! My allergies have started to become a daily annoyance. My pale legs are blinding everyone around me as it's becoming warm enough to go without tights. And then there there is the inevitable shedding of the winter comforts...big sweaters and for most, the move from filling your belly with amazing amounts of winter comfort food to opting for lighter fare that won't put you into a food coma once the humidity arrives. Plus there is outdoor dining to look forward to. Who doesn't love a good beer garden?
I find that vegetarian side dishes with a little bit of carbs are my typical "go-tos" during this time of year. Orzo and/or couscous provide a great base. I tried this recipe recently, which is from a post back in 2013 on my friend Nick's blog (www.macheesmo.com). This was a great side dish with fish, and I think it would also go well with other Mediterranean-flavored main courses.
Artichoke and Spinach Orzo (serves 4-6 as side dish)
- 12 oz. orzo pasta, cooked and rinsed
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 bunch spinach, washed well
- 6 oz. marinated artichokes, drained
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), diced
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
- salt and pepper
Cook orzo according to package instructions. Once cooking is completed, be sure to drain it and rinse quickly with cold water to stop the cooking.
In a large skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and the red onion and cook over medium-high heat for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until onion softens. Then add a pinch of salt.
Add artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add washed spinach to the skillet, along with 2-3 TB of water to help the spinach steam. Add more water if needed. Cook until spinach is wilted, just a minute or two.
Stir in orzo and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. This salad is good both warm or cold, with grated cheese. Because cheese.