Friday, September 30, 2011

Orzotto with Ripe Tomatoes and Sweet Basil

Have I mentioned that the fall quarter started? The fall quarter started. Inevitably, this means we run completely out of groceries without noticing, and then act shocked when it happens, as though we vaguely remembered there being small and assiduous grocery gnomes who did this sort of thing for us last time. (There have never been grocery gnomes, just in case you were suddenly perking up, wondering where to get some. Maybe at Costco. I will check).

Anyway, a few nights ago, after a fruitless 8pm run to our beloved Co-op for some quick-and-easy dinner ingredients, which happened to all be completely sold out, we begrudgingly started rooting around in our cupboards and fridge and garden for something remotely palatable to cook. Except that this turned out to be wonderful -- an Italianish, risotto-esque dinner that cooks in a fraction of the time thanks to the orzo pasta substituting for rice. So next time you have perfectly ripe tomatoes and fresh basil, try throwing this together. You can use white orzo instead of whole wheat if the latter proves difficult to track down (we found ours at Market of Choice in Oregon, but surely there must be other places that carry it), and either way, the whole dish takes less than 20 minutes.

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried whole wheat orzo pasta
1 small clove garlic, pressed
3 medium-sized ripe, fragrant tomatoes, cut into what I'm going to call hunks (1-inch pieces or so) and sprinkled with 2 pinches salt (let sit for up to 30 minutes to bring out flavor)
30 leaves fresh sweet and/or purple basil, chiffonade
1/2 cup grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
3 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted (heat in a pan over medium heat, shaking frequently, till lightly brown)

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium-sized pot and add the orzo. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until just barely al dente. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more, then add the tomatoes and basil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are warmed through. Turn off the heat, throw in the parmesan, stir to combine, and spoon into bowls. Sprinkle with pine nuts and garnish with a small sprig of basil.

Serves 2, and pairs very well with Cline's Ancient Vine Zin.

1 comment:

  1. Tried this and it's wonderful – mild, tasty, subtle. The fresh tomatoes become deeply rich when just heated through. We thought the 30 basil leaves would be a bit much, but note that these are leaves from the garden (i.e., small and subtle) rather than from Safeway (i.e., humongous and sharp).