Toasted Orzo

I'm not sure whoever thought up toasting pasta before you cook it, but I think they are pretty darn smart.  Toasting it gives it a nutty and complex flavor that you would never get by just boiling it.

Think of this dish almost like a risotto, creamy and flavorful, the perfect side side, or even a main dish when served with a salad.  I served this with a grilled Souvlaki and veggie skewers, simple outdoor stuff for someone else to help you with while you are a whipping this up indoors.  

But, hey... Bobbie Flay uses his saute pans on the grill, I bet this would work outside too.  If the weather ever gets nice in Seattle.... maybe I will try it (sigh).

When, oh when, is Summer going to start?  I heard on the news this morning that we have exactly 78 minutes of temperatures over 80 degrees... 78 minutes?  Crazy.  If you live here, you know the temperature was probably 81, I think I would have remembered something as nice as 82 degrees.

Serves about 6
8 oz. package of orzo pasta, divided into 2 equal portions
1 sm onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups broth (chicken, or vegetable)
2-3 cups water
1/2 cup white wine (something dry and unoaked)
1 tsp garlic, fresh minced or garlic powder
1/2 cup cheese (or more) - Parmesan, Feta, Asiago, whatever you like
1/3 cup parsley, minced
2 Tbsp butter, cold and cubed

Assemble all the ingredients by the stove.

In a large skillet, or saute pan with at least 2 in sides, add the olive oil and saute the onion over medium high heat.  After abot 2-3 minutes as the onion begins to soften, add HALF the orzo and saute until it starts to take on some color.  Watch your heat, you dont want it to burn, but you do want it to get 3-4 shades darker than it was before you started cooking. 

Add about 3/4 cup of chicken stock, the wine and the 'raw' (untoasted) orzo.  Stir until the liquid is combined. Add more chicken stock and repeat.  After all the chicken stock is gone, start with the water, BUT, you may not need all the water.  This whole process should take about 20-25 minutes.  You can taste the orzo to determine how much more cooking it will take to get it tender enough to eat. The toasted ones that slightly longer to cook than the untoasted orzo. Keep stirring and adding water until you are happy with the consistency.

Add the cheese and stir to mix in and melt.  Add seasoning adding salt and fresh pepper to taste. Last, add the cold butter and the parsley and stir.  The cold butter adds a creaminess to the final dish.

Leftovers are good reheated, but you could also toss in some leftover meat and some fresh chopped veggies to have a pretty wonderful pasta salad... just sayin'.

Here's another pasta ideas that I like, and you might too!
Pasta with Green Pea, Bacon and Parmesan Sauce