Orzo Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
Loved this! This is an easy vegetarian meal that doesn’t leave you wanting meat when you’re finished. It’s called a risotto, but it’s made with orzo instead of rice. If you’ve never had orzo, you should try it. It’s actually pasta, but it looks like giant grains of rice. I thought this risotto wasn’t as saucy as other risottos I’ve tried, but maybe pasta is just more absorbent than rice. :)
The original recipe called for butternut squash. I’ve never been a huge fan of squash, but I’m starting to come around. That also means I’m not very squash-literate. The grocery store I was at didn’t have any butternut squash at the time, so I bought a sweet potato for a substitute. I figured the texture and color was about the same as butternut squash with a little added sweetness. Um, it was a lot sweeter than I wanted and clashed with the rest of the dish. I tried it again with my favorite go-to veggie, zucchini, and it turned out delicious!
The walnuts and the feta cheese are elements that really make this dish great. The walnuts add a nice texture and a little meatiness, and the feta, well, I decided a long time ago that cheese just makes everything better. If you don’t like feta, you could also use another salty cheese like Parmesan, Romano, or even goat cheese, and it would be just as tasty. I paired this with some toasty sourdough garlic bread.
adapted from BHG.com
2 medium zucchinis, halved, then sliced about 1/2-inch thick
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
8 oz button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 T snipped fresh rosemary or oregano or 1 tsp. dried rosemary or oregano, crushed
2 14-oz cans reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
8 oz orzo (1-1/3 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a 15x10x1-inch baking (jelly roll) pan with cooking spray. Place zucchini in pan, sprinkle with black pepper, cover loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover; add mushrooms, onion, rosemary, and oil; toss. Roast, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, stirring once or twice.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring broth to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; keep broth steamy-warm. Coat a large skillet or saute pan with 1-2 T olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add orzo and garlic. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until orzo is lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Add 1/2 cup hot broth to orzo mixture. Return to heat. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth to orzo mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and cooking until liquid is absorbed before adding more. The pan won’t be bone dry, but you should be able to run a spatula through the middle and see the bottom of the pan without any broth running to the center. Cook and stir until orzo is tender and creamy (about 15 minutes).
Add roasted vegetables and walnuts to orzo mixture; stir gently to combine. Add feta cheese to mixture or sprinkle over each serving. Makes 4 servings.
1. To toast the walnuts, I just stuck them in my toaster oven for a few minutes until they got fragrant and began to turn a little brownish. You could also throw them in the oven with the vegetables in a separate pan. Just don’t forget about them because they burn easily! (And it does NOT smell good. Trust me.)