Monday, August 6, 2012

orzo, hot or cold

I have been on an orzo kick lately.  We had orzo with our homemade marinara sauce, and it was surprisingly good.  I made up a couple of recipes featuring orzo, as well, and, I have to admit, they turned out pretty well.  The first one is a variation on the meal that Julie likes to make that consists of vegetables, pasta, and protein of some kind - kielbasa or pork or chicken, usually.  The second is a variation of the Thai peanut chicken recipe that I make to use up leftover pasta.  Julie asked me for both recipes - which is very flattering - but, of course, I don't have recipes, per se.  I will create some.

Orzo with Summer Vegetables and Italian Sausage

olive oil 
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
assorted fresh peppers - I used 3 or 4 jalapenos, 1 bell pepper, and 5 or 6 banana peppers
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. Splenda sugar substitute
¼ to ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup uncooked orzo

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in large frying pan. Cut the sausage into about 3-inch long pieces (or whatever size you like) and brown on all sides in hot oil.  When sausage is browned, turn burner down, add about ¼ cup water, put lid on pan, and simmer until sausage is cooked through.  At the same time, cook orzo in large pot of salted, boiling water; drain and rinse.

While sausage is cooking, clean and chop vegetables.  I left my peppers about an inch and half square; I slivered the garlic and onions; and after chopping the tops and bottoms off the squash, I sliced them in ¼-inch thick disks.  I cut the disks in half if they got too big.  When the sausage is cooked, remove to a plate so vegetables can cook.  Add another tablespoon of olive oil and the vegetables to the pan.  Make sure the veggies are not wet or you could get burned.  Sauté vegetables, adding salt and pepper, sugar and vinegar.  It is important to taste the vegetables as they cook, and adjust seasonings as needed.  Cook vegetables until they are almost as done as you like them; then add sausage and orzo, and heat through.  Serve with fresh summer fruit.


This is a seasonal meal, meant to take advantage of fresh summer vegetables. As regular readers know, I am  fussy about my cooked vegetables, and find that I can stand all of these.   If there are other veggies that you like or have on hand, by all means, use them.  This recipe makes a lot, and could easily be halved.

My second recipe was supposed to be a simple, cold pasta salad with shrimp, but I found that I didn't have a lot of the ingredients that I thought I had to make it.  I did, however, have these ingredients, and so that is what I used.

Thai Shrimp and Orzo Salad

1 cup uncooked orzo
1 lb. medium-sized shrimp, cooked, cleaned, and chilled
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
⅓ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
10 - 12 basil leaves, chopped (cilantro would be good here, but I used it all in the salsa)
1 tsp.salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. curry powder
½ cup good mayonnaise
1 tbsp. lime juice
Thai peanut sauce
canned coconut milk

Cook orzo in large pot of salted, boiling water; drain and rinse.  Combine shrimp, vegetables, peanuts, and basil in a large bowl.  Add orzo.  Add salt, pepper, and curry powder; stir well.  In a smaller bowl, add lime juice, peanut sauce, and coconut milk to mayonnaise and whisk until smooth.  This is where you will have to taste frequently and use your own judgement as to how much of each of these to use.  This "dressing" that you are making should be soupy - the orzo will absorb a lot of it.  When the taste is to your liking, pour dressing over salad and mix well.  Spoon into a lovely bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled.


I am very pleased with how both of my new recipes turned out, but shall I tell you how I like the orzo best of all?  Piping hot with butter and salt on it.  It reminds me of the spaghetti I ate when I was a child.  I wouldn't eat tomato sauce, so my spaghetti always had butter and salt instead.  It tasted great.