One of my favorite side dishes has always been a rice pilaf. I saute rice in a saucepan with melted butter, then add chicken broth and cook on low heat until done. It is seasoned with tarragon if I am serving it with chicken.
I was on the pasta aisle of the supermarket recently and saw the bags of orzo; small rice shaped nuggets. Hmmmm – why not cook it like a pilaf? That is just what I did and I loved it. My basil plants are huge this time of year so I seasoned it with a big handful of fresh basil and slathered it with grated Parmesan.
This made a perfect side dish to the stuffed 8 ball zucchini squash that I posted about on Sunday. I have also served it with grilled chicken. I think it would also be wonderful with a veal Parmesan. It is going on my list of everyday meal rotations because it is so easy and I can always have the ingredients in the pantry. It is a fun way to eat pasta without having to twirl it around a fork.
ORZO PASTA WITH PARMESAN AND BASIL
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 cup orzo pasta
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo and stir in butter. Cook until orzo is evenly coated with butter and is beginning to brown. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover saucepan. Cook on low heat until orzo is cooked through and chicken broth is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove lid and add chopped basil, grated Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.
If you have leftovers, you can use them in those cute 8 ball zucchini squash. I cooked 1/2 pound of ground beef until done, drained the fat, added chopped tomatoes, Italian seasoning and cooked until the tomatoes released their juices. Then I added the orzo, stirred the mixture together and used it to stuff the zucchini and the small red peppers that I got from the market. I topped it with buttered breadcrumbs and baked it for about an hour. The possiblities are limitless. Because the 8 ball squash tops are so cute I baked them along side the squash and peppers. I just oiled the underside so that they would not stick to the pan.