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Written by Jessica
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Orzo

Adapted from the "Barefoot Contessa Parties!" cookbook, this recipe is super-quick, can be made ahead of time, is great year-round, is customizable to lots of palates, incorporates veggies, can be taken on picnics, and is equally awesome as a main dish or a side. Use any kind of veggies you have in the fridge or that your family likes (there are some suggestions below) with your favorite small-cut pasta shape.

 

1 lb. small-cut pasta, such as orzo, farfalle, or penne

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 eggplant

1 red onion

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 425F. Chop all veggies into 1-inch pieces, discarding seeds and cores. Toss together on a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes, turning often, until soft.

Meanwhile, prepare 1 pound of your favorite small-cut pasta according to the package directions and whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

While the pasta is still hot, place in a large bowl and toss with the prepared vegetables and dressing. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and add an extra squeeze of lemon.

Add any combination of the following toppings to complete the dish:

  • Grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp
  • Cubed feta or brie cheese
  • Chopped basil or parsley
  • Sliced green onion
  • Halved grape tomatoes
  • Toasted pine nuts

Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. Serves 4 to 6.

Tip:
This recipe is also delicious with grilled veggies! First cut the vegetables in half, discarding seeds and cores, and brush with olive oil. Grill on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and cool. Chop into 1-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Omit garlic.

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