Orzo is this beautifully almond shaped pasta, that is so packed with flavor it will amaze you. My mother used to make a nice soup, light, with just a simple mirepoix and an old chicken, simmered for hours on the stove, a little hint of stewed tomatoes for color and at the end some orzo. It would absorb the intensified flavor of the soup and it had just a slight crunch, so tasty. The smell of that broth simmering would wake me up on those cold wintry Sunday mornings. I would eat bowl upon bowl of that soup, especially loved when she would scramble an egg with salt, pepper and parmigiano then swirl it in the broth, the combination of that egg and orzo and that so tenderly cooked broth, to die for.
On a trip to Seattle, Washington, we found an amazing market, alongside the ocean front: Pike Place Market. Smells in the air of fresh fish, deep fryers going, people eating fish and chips, you get hungry just being there, and you can’t have it fresher than that. There was this pasta stand selling dried pastas, rices and orzo, we loved the look of this rainbow orzo. This could make a beautiful salad or a nice risotto except substituting rice for orzo, or even a soup, yum. We bought a bag full and off the orzo went from Seattle to Edmonton, and in this beautiful Rainbow Orzo Salad.
Today looking in the cupboards, freezer and pantry shelf, the need to use up some ingredients was evident. We have been away for a few weeks in the scenic country of Italy, with all that fresh good food, hot temperatures and sunshine to bath us on the sandy beaches of the sea. I know you are asking why come back, well work, and the exchange in currency was awful, but one day…………………….
Sorry got side tracked, back to the recipe, after gathering a few ingredients needing to be used we came up with the fixings for a great orzo salad. In the fridge was a green onion, a great taste elevator in any dish raw or cooked. Some beautiful green cherry tomatoes straight from our backyard oasis. In the freezer I spotted a bag of edamame beans which would add a distinct rich organic protein flavor. In the pantry some canned chick peas for a bit of nutty and some marinated baby artichoke hearts acidic and pungent, and the marinade to be used as part of a dressing, some salt cured capers, along with basil for that reminder of herb gardens and why fresh tastes so good. The star of this show a compilation of colors the rainbow orzo tinted with flavors of carrots, tomatoes, green veggies and just the plain orzo. We are set to put this rainbow orzo salad together.
Orzo cooked to a nice al dente texture, tossed with fresh green cherry tomatoes, chopped green onion, edamame steamed, chickpeas, atichoke hearts, capers, basil, a dressing of marinade from the artichokes, olive oil, salt pepper, a drizzle of avocado oil which has such a rich flavor, this tones down the acidity of the salad, along with the sweetness from the dried apricots, and to make it a bit creamy a dollop of mayo just to pull all the ingredients together. Hands in the bowl preferably washed of course and lots of love and intention massaging all those flavors and textures, this orzo is going to be so so good!
You can taste the different flavors of the orzo, then the freshness of the tomatoes, that wonderful addictive taste of edamame, along with the nuttiness of the chickpeas, the meatiness of the artichoke hearts, the unusual but tasty flavor and texture of the capers, and little explosions of basil hitting your senses and that sweet ending of dried apricots, a nice creamy acidic dressing, I am having trouble talking my mouth is full and the spoon is locked and loaded for the next bite. This is a great salad for that outdoor barbecue dinner or even a lazy afternoon lunch sitting on that lounge chair watching time go by and chores pile up, ah yes the good life lol. Try this recipe out, if you have not tried orzo before, you may be pleasantly surprised, be creative, be free, to create your own ideas with orzo.
With that being said from our kitchen to yours,
- 3/4 cup orzo pasta
- 8 mixed cherry tomatoes (red/yellow/green), halved
- 1/4 cup chickpeas
- 1/4 cup edamame
- 3 dried apricots, slivered
- 1/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1 green onion
- 1 Tbsp basil
- 1 tsp capers
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp mayo
- 1 Tbsp extra virgil olive oil
- 1 tsp avocado oil
Orzo and Cheese melt:
- 1/8 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- 1 cup grated Asiago cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano regianno cheese
- 1/8 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
- 2 table spoon panko crumbs
- In a pot bring 3 cups of water to boil.
- Add salt to water.
- Pour in orzo and cook for about 12 minutes or until al dente in texture.
- Drain and cool, place in a bowl.
- While orzo is cooling add some olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
- In another pot bring 2 cups of water to boil and salt water.
- Toss in edamame and cook for 10 minutes.
- Drain and cool then toss in bowl with orzo.
- Wash canned chickpeas and drain well, toss in with orzo.
- Rinse off capers washing all the excess salt and add to orzo.
- Add tomatoes and artichoke hearts, and green onion.
- Chop up some fresh basil and sprinkle on top.
- Toss all ingredients together till well blended.
- Add avocado oil, and just a splash of the artichoke marinade.
- Squeeze in the mayo.
- A sprinkling of salt and pepper but watch the amount of salt because the capers and artichokes are salty to begin with.
- Toss well again, ready to serve.
Orzo and Cheese Melt:
- Take orzo pasta and place in a bowl.
- Add coconut milk, melted butter, grated parmigiano, and just some of the grated Asiago.
- Toss in some of the panko and bread crumbs leaving some for the topping.
- Mix well and pour into a baking dish or single ramekins.
- Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
- Top orzo mixture with remaining Asiago cheese and dust with remaining panko and breadcrumbs.
- Place in oven on the middle rack and bake till nice and golden brown on top.
- Approximately 25-30 minutes.
- Ready to serve.
For Orzo and cheese melt, prep time is about 15 minutes and cook time about 30 minutes.
P.S. We had a bit of orzo salad leftover and me being the creative sort I am, I had an idea. MAC AND CHEESE! Well, close: Orzo and Cheese Melt. This was absolutely amazing. The orzo pasta already rich in flavors then melted parmigiano and Asiago, that nice crispness from the panko and bread crumbs and of course those tasty morsels of baked golden crunchy orzo. Yum, Yum, Yum. We had seconds and kept going back with the spoon in the baking dish for more. Sometimes leftovers become great repeat recipes. This is a prime example of that!