Orzotto with Asparagus

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While we are not vegetarian – see previous posts šŸ™‚ – there are times when a dish is made that doesn’t include meat and could very easily be considered “vegetarian”. It’s not necessarily done on purpose nor is it done on accident. There are just times when something looks good/interesting to make and it happens to not have meat. This was one of those dishes.

Orzo, a small rice like pasta, is a lot like Aribo rice (risotto). You cook it in much the same way and I would argue that you could easily substitute risotto for the orzo pasta and still have the same dish. Or at less very similar. Since it cooks like risotto this is a recipe that will take a lot of focus, diligence, and patience. I do pretty good at 1 1/2 of those. And I’m sure there were other things going on so it took even more focus away. My point being that this, like risotto, requires you to stand there and pay attention rather than walking away or doing too many other things. If you don’t pay attention,motor much liquid may be absorbed in any one of the steps and it could start to stick. Honestly, that almost happened to me in the final stages where I just kind of “let it go” waiting for the asparagus to be done and suddenly I realized that practically all the liquid was gone and it was really thick and starting to stick.

But it turned out to be a pretty good dish. The recipe did call for a half pound of green and white asparagus (each) but I just used green in know I could have found a use for the other half of it but it seemed overly complicated and I have enough recipes that I want to make without needing to find a use for leftover asparagus. The girls even liked it or rather, they liked the pasta part. They weren’t about the “green stuff” at all which was more of the green onion than asparagus. We didn’t give them any asparagus to try.

recipe taken from the March 2013 issue of Cooking Light magazine

3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 TBSP butter
2 TSP oil oil
1 1/4 cups chopped red scallions or green onions (about 1 bunch you would buy at the store)
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta (sadly not quite a whole box)
1 1/2 TSP grated lemon rind (or 3/4 TSP dried)
1 TBSP lemon juice
3/8 TSP salt
1/4 TSP black pepper
1/2 pound green asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 pound white asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Extra Parmesan cheese for topping, as desired

Bring stock to a simmer in a sauce pan – do not boil. Keep warm.

Heat another saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and oil, swirl to coat. Add scallions; cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add orzo. Cook 2 minutes stirring frequently. Stir in rind, juice, salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the stock to the pasta mixture; cook about 2 1/2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Reserve 1 cup of stock. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of the stock is absorbed before adding more stock. This should take 10-13 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of stock and asparagus. Cook 7 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.,maturing occasionally. The stock should also be mostly absorbed at this point as well. You are going for a “creamy” texture.

Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Spoon into bowls and top with additional cheese if desired.

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