Saturday, June 6, 2009

Veggies with a Touch of Orzo

Jen and I love pasta, but it's probably not something we should live on. Even though in a perfect world, Alfredo would be a life sustaining food. I think most of us know that a healthy meal usually involves a good protein with lots of vegetables. Only sometimes, depending on the protein - say a fish - the meal can feel a little too light, so I find myself rationalizing that carbs are energy and we can ALL use a little more energy, so sprinkling a bit of carbs into the mix will give the whole world more energy! When I lie to myself like this, I find myself reaching for the orzo, because in my make-believe world IT IS rice.

When I first dreamt up this dish, I envisioned it as a vegetable recipe, but I convinced myself that if a few little orzos were peaking out between the veggies, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Psychologically, I would feel proud of myself for eating all the vegetables and emotionally, I would feel soothed by the tiny specks of pasta I had not been denied. And so I call this recipe, Veggies with a Touch of Orzo.

This dish can be created in the short time it takes to cook orzo, because by the time the veggers have been lightly sauted and you've added the few remaining ingredients, the orzo is cooked and ready to be mixed with the vegetables. It's quick, it's easy, it's colorful, and it tastes deeee-lightful.

Veggies with a Touch of Orzo

One Medium Zucchini
One Yellow Pepper
One Large Tomato
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Minced Red Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Basil
3/4 Cup to One Cup Orzo Pasta
One Tablespoon of Salted Butter
2-3 Tablespoons of Light Cream
1/3 Cup of Asiago or Parmesan or Gouda or.......Cheese

Bring a pan of water to a boil. Pour orzo in the water and cook until al dente. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a wok or saute pan over medium heat. Cut zucchini and yellow pepper into pieces and add to the oil. Cover, but stir occasionally for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and onion and continue to cook until lightly softened. Keeping it covered will help keep the moisture in the pan and produce the necessary juices to make a simple, but savory sauce.

Meanwhile, cut the tomato and remove any pulp. Cut into pieces. Set aside.

When the vegetables have softened but are still firm, add the salt, pepper, and basil. Then add the tablespoon of butter and cream to create a light sauce. Remove from heat.

Add the drained orzo to the pan and mix together. Toss in the tomato. ( I choose to add the tomato after the cooking process because I think it makes it more refreshing and light compared to a cooked down tomato). Finely grate whatever cheese you've chosen and fold into the mix. Add a touch more cream and a dash of salt if necessary to create a smooth and tasty sauce - but don't go crazy! We just want enough to wet the ingredients, we don't want anything swimming or taking a bath in the sauce.

Serve with grated cheese on top because everybody loves cheese!

This dish tastes great when served immediately. It's fresh and flavorful and alive. Of course, as it sits and cools, it's still totally edible. Totally!


I labeled this under "Winging It" because I really don't use a recipe for this. You could change up the vegetables, but using a moisture-rich vegetable like zucchini and onion helps create juice for your sauce, so less cream is needed. I add salt, pepper, and cheese as I taste necessary, to get a light but mild flavored dish. So, play around with the vegetables, spices, and cheese and create for yourself a new and exciting dish every time!

Just Have Fun Winging It!


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