So I’ve been reading Eat, Pray, Love.
I just finished the first book on Italy, and truthfully, I haven’t had any sort of life-changing epiphanies. . .yet. But I’ll let you know if I do.
Although, I could seriously go for a slice of the “best pizza in the world”. Who wants to fund me to eat through Italy? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
What this book has done for me is get me steadily into the mindset of Italian flavors. Tomatoes, pasta, basil, parsley, cheese, cheese and more cheese!
Oh, and wine, definitely wine.
Giada and I are becoming BFFs thanks to my desire for everyday Italian.
Ha, see what I did there?
So let’s make some Giada inspired orzo, shall we?
Orzo looks like a rice, but is actually pasta. When cooked properly, it has a lot of the same characteristics of risotto. Creamy and thick, but the bonus of orzo is that it cooks in 8-10 minutes and with limited babysitting. Two characteristics that risotto is decidedly lacking.
I love a good risotto, but I love not having to stand over a pot stirring for 45 minutes even more.
Orzo with Sausage and Peppers
(inspired by Giada de Laurentis)
1 red bell pepper, halved, with seeds and stems removed
1 orange bell pepper, halved, with seeds and stems removed
Salt and pepper
1 lb. orzo
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 lb. Italian sausage, pork
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Preheat broiler. Place peppers skin side up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil until skins are black and charred, about 10 minutes. Remove from broiler, place peppers in bowl and cover with lid or plastic wrap and allow to steam for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat broth and stock in a large stock pot to a boil. Add orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until the orzo has absorbed almost all the cooking liquid and is thick.
While pasta cooks, heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-low heat. Brown sausage until cooked through (remove from casings if needed). While browning, peel skins from roasted peppers and chop. Add garlic, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and peppers to sausage. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orzo and parsley. Top each bowl with a sprinkle of feta.
Makes 8-1 1/2 c. servings.
First things first, make sure you gather up your ingredients. You will have a few elements of the dish going all at the same time, so it is important to be mise en place.
We’re going to roast some peppers first. You can do this multiple ways. Holding them with a pair of tongs over a gas burner, placing them on the grill, or my preferred method, under the broiler.
Halve the peppers and remove the guts.
Place them skin-side-up on your most loved baking sheet. This one was a hand-me-down from my Mama when I moved into my first apartment. It has handles that are rusted down, and it is probably older than I am, but I love it.
Plus, I think food tastes better when cooked on items that have a history.
Drizzle with olive oil.
And sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layers of flavor (LoF), people!
Place them under the broiler for about 10 minutes, or until the skins are completely black and charred. Something like this:
Place the peppers in a bowl, preferably with a lid.
Cover and let steam for 15-20 minutes. You could also cover with plastic wrap if you were so inclined.
15-20 minutes just happens to be plenty of time to prepare the orzo and meat. Four cups of chicken broth into a stockpot.
+ one cup water.
+ a pinch or so of salt. LoF!
Bring to a boil. And then throw in your orzo.
Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the orzo has absorbed most of the liquid and the whole mess is thick and creamy. You really shouldn’t be able to drain any of the liquid. The gluten in the pasta thickens up the broth to make the line between pasta and sauce fuzzy.
While the pasta is cooking, brown your Italian sausage.
While the pasta is cooking and the sausage is browning, go back to your peppers and peel off the charred skins. Chop coarsely.
To the browned sausage, add the tomatoes, garlic and peppers.
Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften garlic.
Remove from heat and pour in the cooked orzo and 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
Stir well! You want it all evenly distributed.
Serve topped with feta and a sprig of flat-leaf parsley.
This is a dish that can definitely be considered a meal.
And this makes for some amazing leftovers. Your Monday workday will be leaps and bounds more tolerable if you have this packed in your lunchbox.
So good, that the husband texted me the next day after making this saying, “this may be the best thing you’ve ever made.”
I like those kind of texts.