I've become a little obsessed with the dried pasta brand Rustichella d'Abruzzo. Though it costs two to three times more than normal brands, it makes every pasta dish I attempt taste better. Pasta sauces impractically cling to its rough, delicious surface. Occasionally, I can find it on sale, as was the case for orzo this week.
Orzo is very small, only a tad larger than a rice grain, and cooks much the same way. This recipe reminds me a lot of risotto. The pasta is cooked in broth, sucking up the rich flavor while retaining a nice al dente bite. The dish is then embellished with some simple and traditional Mediterranean flavors. But make no mistake—it's still the pasta that shines the brightest.
My only complaint with this dish is that it all feels a little too polite. I suppose that's what I get for using a recipe from the Mayo Clinic website. Adding one-fourth of a teaspoon of red pepper flakes with the garlic and tomatoes would have added a subtle warmth.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 teaspoons capers, drained and minced
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, chopped
- Small handful grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Salt and pepper
Pour the olive oil into a large skillet set over medium heat. Dump in the tomatoes and the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes become a little soft, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Pour the chicken stock and orzo into a large pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 7 minutes. Turn off the and let the pot sit, covered, for an additional 3 minutes.
Stir in the thyme, capers, pine nuts, cheese, lemon zest, and the cooked tomatoes and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste.