Strawberry season! If you're interested in finding a way to put your brilliantly red gems to work outside of eating them straight from the basket, there's always pasta salad.
Start with the nicest strawberries you can get your hands on.
You'll leave the berries in the biggest chunks to really accentuate them. Their sweetness will contrast the earthy tempeh (which you'll cut into smaller dice) and grassy scallions. The tempeh is also balanced by a seriously lemon-forward dressing packed with not a little parsley and a bit of pepitas blended in for additional body.
Give those bold flavors a soft, welcoming bed of orzo to sink into, and you're all set.
Strawberry-Tempeh Orzo Salad with Lemon-Parsley Dressing
For the dressing:
2 TBSP hulled raw, unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3 scallions, white and tender green parts roughly chopped, tops reserved for the salad
1/4 cup tightly packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP water
1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
For the salad:
8 oz tempeh
8 oz dried orzo
8 oz fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried
Fill a pot that can also hold a steamer basket with enough unsalted water to cook the pasta. Place the whole block of tempeh in a steamer basket, place into the pot (leaving enough room underneath for the water to boil), and cover. Bring to a boil over high heat.
While the water heats, puree all dressing ingredients (using only the white and light green parts of the scallions for the dressing) until smooth. There will still be flecks of parsley left—the focus is to get the pepitas well blended so that the dressing isn't chunky. Set aside.
When the water boils, carefully remove the steamer and add pasta. Replace steamer and cover, ensure the water comes back to a boil, and reduce heat to medium or medium-low to maintain a steady boil. Cook 8-9 minutes.
While the pasta cooks and the tempeh steams, trim and halve the strawberries (leave smaller berries whole). Slice scallion tops into 1/4-inch-thick rings. Add both to a serving bowl.
When pasta is done, transfer tempeh to a cutting board and drain pasta thoroughly. Add pasta to serving bowl, pour the dressing over, and toss everything.
As soon as tempeh is cool enough to handle, cut it into scant half-inch cubes. Add to serving bowl and toss everything again. Serve at room temperature or chilled.