It’s restaurant week here in the nation’s capital! I love love love restaurant week. Last night I went out with three of my closest friends (which happen to be a girl and two guys, so it always looks like we’re on a double date when we do dinner together, but I swear it’s all platonic!)
We went to a French bistro down near the Hill; I had only been there once before, and it was for an anniversary dinner with my last boyfriend. Ah memories.
Anyway, the meal was incredible. The deal with restaurant week is that you get a three-course meal for $35. I started off with the Paté de Campagne, served with a mesclun salad, toasted baguette and mustard sauce. I used to love paté when I was little, my grandma would always bring it for a holiday appetizer. Then I think at some point I found out I was eating liver and got grossed out by the idea. But man, I have been missing out. This particular paté was made from pork with pistachios, and the flavor was perfect. Two of my friends started with the Onion Soup Les Halles, and after sampling theirs, I’d say it was even better than the paté. I’m not even a soup fan, but smothered in Gruyere, this soup was perfection. For my entrée, I struggled to choose between the Coq au Vin and the Risotto Forestiere. Ultimately, I opted for the risotto, and it was a great choice. It had wild mushrooms, butternut squash, roasted pears and fresh sage butter. I’m planning to attempt to make my own version of it within the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that recipe! And to finish off an amazing meal, I ordered the White Chocolate-Blood Orange Crème Brulée. It was very tasty, but I was disappointed by the lack of orange flavor. I think the sweetness of the sugar and white chocolate overwhelmed the dish, and it could have used that citrus to balance it out. I traded some of my crème brulée for my friend’s Chocolate Ganache Cake, also tasty, but I expected a deeper chocolate flavor from it. It wasn’t as decadent as I would have liked. Overall though, a completely amazing meal, and a great deal, perfect for foodies with a tight budget.
Needless to say, after a meal like that, I don’t really need to eat for the next week. But I thought I would throw together a nice pasta salad for fun. Pasta salads are the single girl’s best friend (and great for potlucks too). You can make extra, eat it hot or cold for lunch or dinner, in whatever portion you feel like!
This recipe just has a lot of my favorite things in it: black olives (when I was little I would eat them straight out of the can. Okay, sometimes I still do that.), grape tomatoes (love the sweetness), mozzarella cheese (love the texture of it), and carrots (adds a nice punch of color). You should feel free to make it exactly like I do, or to take out anything you don’t like and add in what you do! That’s the beauty of a pasta salad, totally adjustable to everyone’s own tastes.
Single Girl’s Pasta Salad
Orzo 1 cup uncooked
One carrot, shredded
One small can sliced olives
½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
½ cup mozzarella, cubed
Half a small white onion, diced
One clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Herbs: Basil, oregano, thyme, etc
Cook orzo as directed in salted water. Drain and pour into a medium sized bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
While orzo is cooking, sauté garlic and onions with 1 Tbsp olive oil in medium skillet until translucent, add carrots and cook 4 more minutes.
Add cooked onions, carrots and garlic to the bowl of orzo. Drain the olives and dump them in, along with the tomatoes and mozzarella. Add remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar, as well as the 2 tsp fresh lemon juice. Finish it off with the ground pepper and herbs of your choosing, I used some basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary. You can add salt if you think it needs it, I’m not a big salt person, so I didn’t add any extra. Mix everything together and you are good to go!
I ate it as it was when I finished making it, still slightly warm. You can eat it cold right out of the fridge the next day, or toss it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It can be a side dish, a main dish, whatever you want!
Do you have any killer pasta salad combos to share?