Trouble With Toast

How orzo saved my dinner | August 22, 2007

I looooove rice. White, brown, jasmine, saffron, Arborio, long-grain, short-grain, wild, enriched, instant, or “–A-Roni,” I’m a huge fan of the starchy goodness. I especially dig rice dishes where seemingly random, unrelated ingredients come together to form a cohesive, delicious whole (jambalaya, paella, and risotto come to mind).

After pondering what to serve with last night’s pork loin, I decided to prepare a vegetable risotto. Unfortunately, when I peeked into the cabinet, I didn’t see any Arborio rice—so that plan was right out. I found wild rice, but I don’t usually like it except in soup (which is why I had it on hand). Jasmine rice was available, but I thought it would be too floral for the sweet, oniony sauce in which I had marinated the meat. I had a teensy bit of brown rice, but it wouldn’t have been enough for me, my boyfriend, and our delicious leftovers. Dejected, I scanned the cupboard for a solution when it dawned on me…

Orzo!

Orzo is pasta masquerading as rice, and I had a big canister of it just waiting to be put to use. I boiled it up until it was just past al dente, and then I strained it and let it cool slightly. Meanwhile, I boiled and de-kerneled four beautiful ears of corn; diced and sauteed some garlic, red bell peppers, white onions, and jalapenos; and coarsely chopped some tomatoes and cucumbers.

When the orzo reached room temperature, I added the vegetables and threw in some jalapeno oil, garlic oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano. A few good stirs, and voila! Carby, spicy, veggie-y goodness—yum! It was a great side dish for the pork loin, and now I can use the leftovers as a base for new creations.

I think orzo makes great summer salads, and it ends up being delicious whether heated or refrigerated. Are you a fan of orzo? What’s your favorite rice, and how do you use it?

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