BY EVELYN CAIRNES

If you need ideas for  side dishes to serve at your next barbecue or other outing, consider Orange Rice with Raisins; Lemon and Asparagus Orzo Salad; and Watergate Salad. All are so delicious, that I can’t decide which I like the best.

I got the recipe for the rice, which is wonderful with grilled chicken and really easy to make, from Shelley Dalley of Grosse Ile, who got it from Kathy Boudrie of South Rockwood, who got it from  her mother, who got it from an old Pillsbury cookbook.  

The recipe for the pasta salad was posted on the Henry Ford Health System Live Well website, along with a photo and a video of how to prepare it. Ideas for adapting the recipe with other pastas and vegetables and nutritional values were included as well. The salad can be served at room temperature or cold and travels well to a picnic or other outing. 

You may not remember the Watergate Salad, which was popular in the 1970s and ‘80s, but you may remember the President Richard Nixon scandal involving the 1972 break-in at the Watergate office complex for which the salad is named. There are stories galore about the origin of the salad, which I would call a dessert rather than a  salad. Among the rumors are that the salad was concocted by a sous chef at the Watergate Hotel, and that Kraft Foods created the salad to introduce its new pistachio pudding mix. Nevertheless, it is the most addictive whatever-you- call-it that has ever crossed my lips, and takes only about five minutes to make.

ORANGE RICE WITH RAISINS

1 stalk celery, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup white or brown rice

1 ½ cups water

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

1 cup orange juice

½ cup raisins or currants

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey

Cook celery in butter until tender. Stir in rice. Add water, orange rind, orange juice, raisins, salt and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce  heat to very low. Cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes (40 to 50 for brown rice) or until the rice is tender. Makes 5 to 6 servings. If desired, sprinkle ¼ cup toasted almonds or chopped pecans over the rice before serving.  

LEMON, ASPARAGUS ORZO PASTA SALAD

½ cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups dry orzo pasta

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley  

½ cup  diced green onion 

¼ cup feta cheese crumbles

Lemon slices for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside. Bring water to a boil; add  orzo and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain, but do not rinse. Add warm orzo and asparagus to a large mixing bowl. Add dressing and parsley. Mix well. Top with green onion, feta and lemon slices. Serve chilled or at room temperature. 

Note: You may want to cut the recipe in half, as it makes a lot.  Other pastas can be substituted  for orzo, and your favorite vegetable in season for asparagus. The addition of grilled chicken, steak or shrimp would transform the salad into a main course.  

WATERGATE SALAD FROM THE 1970s

4-serving-size package instant pistachio-flavor pudding mix

20-ounce can Dole Crushed Pineapple, undrained

1 cup miniature marshmallow

½ cup chopped pecans

1 ½ cups thawed whipped topping

Combine dry pudding mix, crushed pineapple, marshmallows and pecans in a large bowl until well blended. Gently  stir in whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve.


HAPPY EATING!

(Contact me at Evycairns@aol.com.)

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