Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Orzo Salad

I saw this recipe on tv the other day and I thought it would be a great summer dish. I have never had a orzo recipe that I really liked and I had hope for this one. I did make a few changes from the original recipe, so here's my version. It's basically the same, but I used pork sausage instead of turkey, I used roasted red peppers from a jar, and substituted a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes for the fresh plum tomatoes (because of the salmonella scare here last week.) I do think the fresh tomatoes would be much better though. Oh, and I couldn't find ricotta salata cheese to crumble on top, but I had some crumbled feta that worked fine and added a nice saltiness to the finished dish.

If you've never tried orzo, it is a tiny pasta that is just bigger than rice. It cooks up fast, so if you like your pasta al dente, then keep your eye on it. It will get soft quickly.

We really did like this orzo dish, and next time I think I'll even try it without the sausage and with a few more veggies possibly. One of the appealing aspects of this dish, is how pretty it is when finished- with the red peppers, green parsley and lovely white crumbled cheese.

Orzo Salad
6 servings

1 jar roasted red peppers (packed in oil), chopped
1 lb orzo pasta
2 cans (14.5 oz) chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup ricotta salata cheese, crumbled (or crumbled feta cheese)

In a large skillet, cook sausage. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped roasted red peppers, tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Cook until heated through, 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth, water and salt to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8-10 minutes. **stir it often so it doesn't stick.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the sausage mixture, 1 Tablespoon of the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine all ingredients, adding reserved cooking liquid, if needed to loosen the pasta. Top with the ricotta salata (or feta) and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Serve.

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