Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Orzo with Grilled Zucchini & Sun-dried tomatoes

Please note:  I also posted the wonderful Grilled Lamb with Cilantro Mint sauce - which is amazing with the orzo...look just below.  Larue
Orzo with grilled zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes

I was recently looking for a side dish for lamb…. something relatively well contained on the plate so the sauce from the lamb dish could have free reign. It would also be a perfect accompaniment with chicken or fish as well as standalone for a great vegetarian meal. BTW – the lamb dish is also featured on my blog – Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette.

Heat a grill pan to the smoking point over medium high heat.  Or, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high. Whisk 2 Tb of olive oil and 2 Tb balsamic vinegar together in a small bowl. Slice 2 zucchini lengthwise into ¼ inch slices.  With a damp paper towel, wipe clean 2 portobello mushrooms, remove gills and discard stems. Lightly brush zucchini and mushrooms with the olive oil/vinegar mixture.  Place all in the grill pan or on the grill grates and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until crisp-tender.  Place on a plate to cool.
Cleaning the portobello mushrooms

Grilled zuchs and mushrooms
Zucchini and portobello mushrooms
Mix together ½ C julienned sun-dried tomatoes, ½ C extra virgin olive oil, ¼ C balsamic vinegar and fresh juice from 1 lemon in a bowl and set aside.

As an option, toast about ½ C pine nuts – either in a dry pan on the stove or in 350 degree F oven – watch carefully as it burns quickly. I love the crunch the nuts give to the final product.
Toasted pine nuts
Bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add 2 tsp salt and 1 lb orzo – cook according to package direction until pasta is al dente, stirring once or twice. Drain the orzo, rinse and set aside to drain. Add 1 Tb olive oil to the colander and toss to keep the orzo from sticking while you prepare the rest.
Orzo...ready for the veggies
Place orzo in a large bowl.  Add 1 yellow bell pepper, which has been cored, seeded and diced, 1 bunch of washed, drained and stems removed arugula or watercress, and 8 large fresh basil leaves, which have been cut thinly (chiffonade).  Add 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1-inch cubes or small balls – you could also use sheep feta cheese in lieu of mozzarella. Coarsely chop the zucchini and mushrooms and place in bowl with the orzo. Add the sun-dried tomato mixture, season with salt and pepper, and toss lightly to mix. Add optional toasted pine nuts.  Garnish with basil leaves if desired. I recommend a drizzle of a fine extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately. If you refrigerate until later - add the olive oil just before serving.  It will be great the next day or to take on a picnic!

If you serve this solo – I would suggest any sparkling wine – champagne, prosecco, etc or any dry, un-oaked white wine.


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