09 July 2012

Roasted Vegetable Orzo

Even though it's 3,000 degrees in DC and turning on my gas oven increases the temperature in my non air conditioned apartment by another 1,000 degrees I had to make this recipe again. It's super simple, really tasty, and very summer appropriate.

Fresh summer vegetables are some of my favorite things. They almost make the 3,000 degree heat worth it (Okay so maybe it was only 105 F but come on! That plus the humidity and I was not a happy camper). Plus one of the great things about this recipe is it's versatility; you can use any vegetables you like. I settled on summer squash, red onion, asparagus, and sun dried tomatoes.

Between the chopping and roasting and boiling I was trying to stay as cool as possible, which meant dragging my large fan from the living room to the kitchen whenever I had to be in there.

Wish I could say these were from the farmers' market but it was too hot for that.

The more garlic the better is my motto.

If you can't get fresh then Trader Joe's frozen asparagus is really decent.

The luscious smells emanating from the kitchen were what got me to push over and over through the wet wall of heat that seemed to block the entrance to my kitchen. At least I didn't have to go in all that often. For a recipe that has such a nice complex flavor, it's remarkably easy to make. As soon as the vegetables were roasting in the oven I started boiling the chicken stock for the orzo; then added the orzo to the stock when I went back to stir the vegetables.

Reconstituted sun dried tomatoes are so much easier to chop.
For me it's the extras to the recipe that make it so fantastic. I used three different oils on the vegetables: a regular Spanish olive oil, roasted garlic olive oil, white truffle oil. Also, instead of adding mushrooms to the vegetable mix (the original recipe I found called for portabellos), I used wild porcini mushroom sea salt. In fact that's what inspired the entire recipe. I've had this salt for a while and could never quite figure out what to do with it; but it adds a fantastic smokey flavor to this recipe.

My secret weapons!

I also threw some chopped garlic in with the chicken stock :)

And a little more porcini salt before mixing!

Sunflower seeds-so much cheaper than pine nuts.
So my recipe isn't exactly exact...it's kind of a to your taste type of thing:

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Recipe:
1 lbs asparagus
1 large red onion
2-3 summer squash
sun dried tomatoes (reconstituting optional)

Chop all the veg and coat with olive oil and salt and black pepper to taste. Roast at 375 for 10-12 minutes, stir around a little, then roast for another 12-15.

For the orzo I used chicken stock. Not really necessary, water would do, but I feel that the stock adds a bit of richness. I also put some chopped garlic in the stock because I just really like garlic. Bring stock to boil and cook pasta. If you've never used orzo before be mindful that it plumps up a good deal so it's okay to use a little more stock than you might think you need. I let it summer until most of the liquid is gone so that I don't have to strain it.

Once the orzo and the vegetables are done, combine in a large bowl and add a little more spice to taste. The first time I made this I also roasted pine nuts...but then when I looked for them for this round and saw how expensive they are (holy cow!) I substitute dry roasted sun flower seeds which worked just as well. Top it all off with some grated hard Italian cheese (I used romano but a pecorino or parmesan would work just as well), and voila!
Isn't everything better with cheese?

Because it was so very hot I skipped the usual cup of coffee or wine I drink while cooking and instead made some Guarapincoco. One of my girl friends and I discovered Guarapincoco while having brunch at Cuba Libre in Chinatown. You should definitely go to Cuba Libre; the unlimited brunch deal was fantastic. The food and service were wonderful, portions quite generous, atmosphere is fun...I kind of thought I might die when we left though because we had to try everything. The Guarapincoco, which you'll find under the Aqua Frescas on the menu, was one of the best things we had though so I knew I was going to have to recreate it at home.

My recipe for this is also not exact. Despite some Internet searching we couldn't find a recipe so I just started mixing and stopped when it tasted good!

Guarapincoco recipe:
Pineapple juice
Sugar cane juice
Coconut milk
Lime juice

I used the entire can of sugar cane juice and about 3/4 of a can of pineapple juice. I'm sure you could use the entire pineapple juice; I just used what I had on hand. Coconut milk you don't need much of, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 the can. What you're looking for is for it to make the drink slightly creamy and to give it a pale, milky yellow color. The lime juice I added last. If you stop before the lime juice then you basically have a super sweet pina colada. The lime juice really tempered the pina coladay flavor.

This is totally my new summer drink.

Thinking the addition of a little mango rum would take this to a whole new level.

1 comment:

Mia said...

Yum all around. I miss your cooking!