Sunday, May 6, 2012

Greek Zucchini Orzo

Kristin and I have been a bit bored by conventional vegetable-delivery methods, lately.  We needed a side for our Roasted Chicken and nothing quite seemed right.  I wanted to do something a little more interesting than a pile of steamed or roasted vegetables, and of course a little starch never goes amiss.  I decided to make something up, and my Orzo and zucchini invention worked out pretty well.

Zucchini was on sale, so we started there.  I chose Orzo as a starch because I think it's a really great textural element for a side dish, sitting right between pasta and rice and somehow capturing the best of both. The chicken had some Greek flavors - particularly oregano and lemon - so I decided to do the Orzo with a similar palette.  Ultimately, we ended up with a great, flavorful side dish that I'll definitely make again.

You'll need some orzo, obviously, and some zucchini.  The bulk of the flavor comes from lemon, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  It's all held together by a little butter and some white wine.

Take a look at this wine bottle.  How cool is that?  The portrait is on the inside of the back label.  I am more than happy to judge a wine by its bottle, and this one won me over immediately.  It was a good pick, too - a mix of Argentinian Torrontes grapes with just a bit of Sauvignon Blanc.  Yum.

Okay, back to food.  Dice the onion, mince your garlic, and chop down your zucchini into bite-sized pieces.

Cook your Orzo to al-dente according to the directions on the box, and we'll finish it off with the rest of the ingredients.

Add all of the vegetable matter you just chopped up to a large skillet over medium heat with a little butter or olive oil, and saute until things start to get tender.  Add plenty of spices - the oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.

When the vegetables are tender, add the Orzo into the skillet along with the juice of a lemon (a few tablespoons, if you're using pre-packaged juice) and half a cup or so of the white wine (stock works fine if you want to avoid alcohol).  Give it a good stir and let it burble away.  The al-dente Orzo and the Zucchini should absorb all sorts of flavor from the liquids.

When the liquid looks like it's mostly either cooked off or been absorbed, check your seasonings and adjust as necessary, then you're ready to serve.

Serve warm, topped with some extra herbs and/or a little Parmesan Cheese.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Greek Zucchini Orzo
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 15-20 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 8-10

  • 12 oz Orzo Pasta
  • 4 medium Zucchini
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: Parmesan Cheese to garnish
  1. Cook Orzo to al-dente according to directions on package.
  2. Dice onion, mince garlic, and chop zucchini down to bite-sized pieces.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, and zucchini.  Season with oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Saute over medium heat until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add cooked Orzo to skillet along with lemon juice and wine.  Simmer gently until liquid has evaporated or absorbed.
  5. Check and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  6. Serve warm, garnished with additional herbs and/or shaved Parmesan Cheese. 

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