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This salad of rice-shaped pasta is perfect for summer entertaining. It is large enough to feed a hungry crowd and is even more delicious the next day when the flavors have blended together. 

Ingredients:

  • Salt, to taste 
  • 1 lb. dried orzo pasta   
  • 1 cup fresh English peas  
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing 
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil  
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar  
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard  
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1 each red and white onion, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick 
  • 1 each red, orange and yellow bell pepper  
  • 1 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 small heirloom tomatoes, about 3 lb. total, cored and quartered 

Directions:

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Add the orzo to the boiling water, stirring with a large spoon to prevent sticking. Return the water to a boil and cook the orzo until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 8 to 10 minutes, adding the peas during the last minute of cooking. Drain in a colander. Pour the orzo and peas into the ice water and drain again. Transfer to a salad bowl. Drizzle with the 1 to 2 Tbs. olive oil and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate.

In a glass measuring cup, combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and the grapeseed oil. In a nonaluminum bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Add the oils in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate and a vegetable-grilling basket.

Brush the onions and bell peppers with olive oil. Arrange the onions in the grilling basket.

Grill the bell peppers directly over high heat, turning occasionally, until nicely charred on all sides. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let steam for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the grilling basket with the onions directly over high heat. Grill, turning once, until nicely charred on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, using your fingers or a paring knife, peel them and discard the skins. Seed and dice the peppers. Add the peppers, onions, parsley and vinaigrette to the bowl with the orzo and peas and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Garnish with the tomatoes and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).