For the third year in a row, I have given up sweets for Lent. For the third year in a row, this 40 days without sweets is TOUGH. For the third year in a row, I know I will feel better at the end of these 40 days only to consume an unhealthy number of Reece’s Peanut Butter Eggs at 7am Easter morning (because Reece’s in egg form are just so much better than the normal peanut butter cups).
By the time Lent comes along every year, I’m usually in need of some kind of detox. Thanksgiving bleeds into Christmas (pies and cookies are abundant), Christmas topples onto New Year’s Eve (my Hungarian family sustains on sugar), there are many birthday celebrations to be had come January (hello, birthday cake), then my birthday (hello, more birthday cake, cake balls, and Momofuku cookies), only to conclude with an indulgent Mardi Gras celebration.
The difficulty with eliminating sweets is defining what exactly “sweets” encompasses. Does it mean solely desserts? Does candy count? What about breakfast pastries? Are you giving up all (heaven forbid) sweet-tasting things?! For my purposes, desserts, candy, and breakfast pastries count as sweets, but I get my sweet fix from fruit and honey in my afternoon tea.
So as I count down the hours until the Easter Bunny sneaks into our house and leaves a basket full of Fudge Kitchen fudge, peanut butter eggs, and Cadbury goodies outside my bedroom door, all Double Batch posts for the month of March will be salad-related (thanks to the ever-brilliant Molly). This bright pasta salad is a great springy recipe especially when the date says winter SHOULD be over, but it’s still 35 degrees with impending snowstorms every day.
Orzo + Arugula Salad (adapted from Love & Lemons)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (plus a bit more for garnish)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (plus a bit more for garnish)
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 box orzo
1/2 cup pecorino, shredded
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2+ cups arugula
In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette and set aside — you want the flavors to marry before using the dressing.
Cook the orzo in boiling water for about 7-10 minutes until pasta is al dente. Drain almost all pasta water from pot (leaving about 2 tablespoons) and transfer orzo into a large glass bowl. Add cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and pine nuts to the orzo and toss until incorporated. When orzo has cooled a bit, add arugula. Pour dressing over salad a little at a time and toss. Serve with garnishes of shredded cheese, lemon zest, and thyme. Enjoy immediately!
This pasta salad is best if eaten the day it’s made, but will keep for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.