Sunday, August 14, 2011

Orzo, Zucchini and Shrimp Salad

We made it! The past two weeks have come and gone and each new day brings a new experience of the wonder, magic and inconveniences of living in New York City. But I love it and Robbie loves it and we have a home of our own now. And that is what is most important. I have wandered aimlessly for blocks at a time, I have taken the subway to work like 95% of the other New Yorkers, I have dined out more than I have dined in and I have obtained my New York City Public Library card. My goal next week is to reenact the scene from Funny Girl where Fanny belts out Don’t Rain on my Parade on a chug boat as she blows past the Statue of Liberty. Instead of meeting Mr. Arnstein, I will meet Robbie on Governor’s Island who will greet me with a Mister Softee ice cream cone. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates!

Now, about those inconveniences . . . Our brownstone, which is broken up into several apartments, was built in 1900. There is a beautiful wooden staircase that goes up the center of the building, lifting its residents to their respective floors. It’s very Edith Wharton-like. Unfortunately, we are on the 5th floor. That’s right, don't let the apartment number 1E fool you. At least once a day, I travel up five flights of stairs to get to my apartment, inevitably remember an errand I forgot to run, turn around, sulk down the stairs, run the errand, and return – for another 5-flight walk. At least we won’t have many visitors. Or robbers.

It turns out, unsurprisingly, that FedEx, USPS, and UPS all dislike residents living on the fifth floor of walk ups and conspire to make it an act of Congress to get any item of mail bigger than our 4 x 12 inch mail box/cubby hole delivered. Currently, FedEx holds our new router after an ‘unsuccessful’ delivery on Friday and USPS is holding, since Thursday, the microwave we bought after an ‘insufficient address’ claim. I think it was a ‘no-way-am-I-walking-up-5-flights-of-stairs’ excuse but that was not an option in the electronic thing they carry around. Alas, several calls later and trips to the local FedEx store we still do not have our respective items but we remain optimistic that this week will bring success. And clarity as to how you actually get packages delivered in NYC.

The lack of a microwave has created challenges to my cooking repertoire. I really like to make things that I can get at least an additional meal out of but without the 20th Century luxury of the ‘reheat’ button on the microwave, I have been limited as to what I can make. So during our first week, I made this easy orzo pasta dish knowing that you could have it cold if in dire straits (which we did, and it was not that dire). It was our first home cooked meal in our home and we raised our Coke Zero’s to New York City.

Orzo, Zucchini and Shrimp Salad
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Coarse Salt and Pepper
1 cup orzo
1 tbs. + 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 med. zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 to 2 tbs. white wine vinegar
1 pound of salad ready shrimp (already cooked)

Cooke orzo according to the package instructions. Allow to cool. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally until crisp-tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add shrimp and stir for another minute or two. Transfer orzo to a medium bowl, add zucchini mixture, basil, vinegar and remaining teaspoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Makes four servings.

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