As soon as the finally seconds ticked off the clock of the AFC Championship game, the Super Bowl party invites started going out. From casual fan variety of, “Hey, if no one has any plans, let’s watch the Super Bowl over at my place,” to the more intense, “It’s our ANNUAL SUPER BOWL BLOWOUT and we’ve invited approximately 273 people over to huddle around our 23-inch TV.”
If your team is not playing in the Super Bowl, heading to a large party is much more fun than sitting on your sofa alone. Lots of people, food, fun, and if you’re single, think of the Super Bowl as a less pressure-filled New Years Eve. Even if you wear tennis shoes and jeans you may still be overdressed. (However if your team is in the Super Bowl, selecting the proper Super Bowl party to attend is incredibly important. Well get back to this topic in a separate, important words of wisdom post.)
Going out to a party though means you, the polite and generous reader, should be ready to bring something that’s more than just a bag of chips and a six-pack of whatever beer or soda are on sale.
Orzo Pasta Salad
Orzo pasta salad is probably the easiest thing you can make and take to a party. Boil a little pasta, chop up some herbs and vegetables, toss with some oil and lemon juice, refrigerate and you’re done. Goes with barbecue, hot dogs and hamburgers, pizza or anything else your host may be cooking up for game day. Can be prepared a day ahead of time and since you chill it there is no need to worry about transporting around a hot dish. Easily doubled for a large gathering.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve brought this salad to a tailgate, football party, or picnic in the eight years since one of my mother’s Orange County cousins shared with me the general recipe for this dish. I’ve tweaked it some since then, added more olives, and incorporated in some balsamic vinegar, garlic, cucumber and parsley. I can tell you it vanishes at ever party I’ve ever brought it to.
You will need…
1 rounded cup orzo
1/3 cup pitted fresh green olives, about 6-9 olives (Not to be confused with pimento stuffed olives.)
1/3 cup kalamata olives, about 6-9 olives
1 cup diced feta
1-2 ripe Roma tomatoes
2 gloves garlic
3 tablespoons chopped dill, about one small bunch
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, about 1/2 a bunch
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice from one fresh lemon, about 2-3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (to taste)
I always say 1 rounded cup of orzo because no matter what strainer I use, I always lose some of the orzo along the way.
Cook the orzo according to package directions, generally about nine minutes. Set aside the finished orzo to cool for a few minutes in a large bowl before combining with the rest of the ingredients.
While the orzo is cooking, peel, de-seed and dice the cucumber. (Easiest way to remove the seeds from a cucumber is to cut the vegetable in half and then gently run a spoon down the center. They’ll slide right out.)
Chop up the rest of the olives, vegetables and herbs and put them all into a medium sized bowl.
Stir in the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Set aside until the orzo is done cooling down just a bit.
Once the orzo is cool, combine with your vegetable and herb mixture in a large bowl. Fold in the crumbled feta.
If the pasta salad is a little dry, add in another tablespoon of olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
Give a good toss again when ready to serve at the party.
See? Easy. Much better than just bringing a bag of potato chips to a Super Bowl party.
(But still bring some beer.)