Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Pasta can be a welcome guest to a meal to feed the masses. One of my favorites is orzo. It's fun, versatile and can easily be eaten hot or cold, savory or sweet. Here's a recipe I prepared to tantalize the taste buds of a few friends in town for a wedding.
This recipe is simple, yet involved, as you will need to put all your love into it. Here's what you'll need:
1 stock pot [enough to hold 1 gallon of liquid]
1 skillet [9 inch is fine]
1 lg mixing bowl
1 lb dried orzo pasta
3 qts water
1 fist of garlic [separated and crushed/bruised]
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T sea salt [or to taste]
1 T poultry seasoning
1 T dried dill weed
1/4 c of the following:
fresh dill weed
fresh celeriac leaves
1 1/2 c grape tomatoes [halves lengthwise]
1 c black kalamata olives [pitted]
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/4 c brown onion [diced and caramelized]
1/2 c vinaigrette dressing
Step 1. In your stock pot add water, salt, and bring to a rapid boil. Add 3 cloves of garlic, poultry seasoning and orzo pasta bring back to a rapid boil stirring frequently and cook until al dente [firm to touch, still chewy, but not hard and not mushy: approximately 7-9 minutes].
Step 1.5 Meanwhile, in your skillet, heat your oil on medium heat, add your diced onion, [a little salt to draw out the moisture and flavor], caramelize [cook until the onion becomes clear and then slightly amber in color], add your crushed garlic and saute [continue to cook on medium heat until slightly tender. Pour into mixing bowl.
Step 2. Drain orzo and add to mixing bowl with garlic and onion infused oil. Fold/incorporate orzo into oil.
Step 3. Toss with fresh herbs, cranberries, olives, vinaigrette and chill.
Step 4. Toss in halved grape tomatoes, just before you're ready to transfer to serving bowl or plate and serve.
This salad went over so well at the event, and we got so many requests for the recipe, that I had to share it with you. Keep in mind that the beautiful thing about these recipes are that they are very versatile. If you don't have one ingredient, simply use another. It'll change the flavor, but not for the worse, just for the 'new & exciting'.
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing with you. Until next time...