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California flavors in a bowl :)

When it’s cold and snowy, or grey and rainy, I find myself so busy and enchanted with a new world and new ways, it’s easy to push California far from my mind.

But days when you wake to the sun, when you walk in a t-shirt without a jacket, when you can smell summer in the air… then I miss San Diego. Then I miss Mexican food at Miguel’s and I miss drinks on the deck of the Hotel Del Coronado. I miss the flavor of the sunshine and time with friends who have walked many beaches with me.

To help myself feel better… sometimes I try to ‘create’ those flavors through a dish. I like to try and cook the way the ‘locals’ do… or at least… using local flavors and recipes and ways. (And with my stupid microwave-oven combo, sometimes I HAVE to! WHO DOES THAT?!?! Microwave-oven combo. I ‘ll say it again just to help you get through the shock.)

Colorful California meal time. I miss having an outside patio!

Anyway… I try to embrace the tastes of a new life. And be grateful for the time in this new life-style to experiment with new tastes.

But sometimes the soul needs a bit of home.

So that’s what I did.. in preparation for a friend from California coming to dinner  (hmmm… maybe that’s why I am feeling blue? My new world and old world are meeting.)… I made one of my favorite San Diego salads.

From a cookbook called Sol Food,  actually released by the Junior League Of San Diego and one that I was sad to leave behind in California…  “Lemony Orzo Salad”

1 cup orzo
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/3 cup chopped green onion ( I think the original recipe said red, but I can’t remember! Somewhere along the line I tweaked it to green onion and that’s what I have written down)
1/3 cup minced parsley (fresh)
3 tablespoons lemon juice – fresh
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped tomato
1/3 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives

Cook the pasta using the package directions, omitting the salt and butter; drain. Combine the pasta, zucchini, and onion in a bowl and toss to mix. Whisk the parsley, lemon juice, basil, olive oil, mint, salt and pepper in a bowl until mixed. Add the pasta mixture to the olive oil mixture and toss to coat. Stir in the tomato, cheese and olives. Serve at room temp or chilled. (Personally I like it best chilled and after it has had a few hours for the flavors to sink into the pasta.)

California Dreaming – a few lifetimes ago: Coronado Beach

Makes a great dish as is, or a nice side. In San Diego it was one of my favorite Sunday afternoon BBQ sides. Here, I am excited that all the ingredients were available! Although finding orzo was a bit of a hassle!

But now it smells like California in the kitchen :)

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