Before we get to the recipe of the day, I must admit that I agonized a bit over what to post today. I try to keep things light here at Beach Eats - that's just how I roll. But there's no ignoring the fact that today is a difficult day. Its difficult for all of us. I want to acknowledge that and offer my public prayer for peace in our world and for peace in the hearts of those personally affected by the events of September 11, 2001.
I do a fair bit of kidding about the husband - what with the meat and the cooking duties and all - but I should also say a few words in his defense. Its not like he's never cooked a meal. He's been the chef plenty of times. He roasts a mean chicken and is solely responsible for any steak cooked chez Diva. Breakfast is his domain as well. I'm capable of much culinary greatness but my scrambled eggs are plateful of woe. Really. The husband is the egg man. Period.
He has a far more adventurous palate than I ever will - and, as long as it doesn't contain peas, he's happy to eat almost anything I put in front of him. He's been nothing short of 100% supportive of all my dietary whims ... and there have been many, and is always game for trying a new dish. I literally could not do this without him. Not the blogging, not the SB dieting. He is the sponsor to which I refer.
Despite his flexibility, I kinda, sorta figured I could slip the whole wheat orzo by him the other night. Its not that he's against WW pasta per se, but it wouldn't be his first choice. I assumed that all the flavors going on in the dish would hide the fact that it wasn't regular pasta. Nothing doing. After heaping much praise upon both the chicken and the orzo, the husband said: "what kind of orzo is this?" Uh oh. I had a brief moment of contemplation before admitting the truth ... then breathed a sigh of relief when he pronounced: "its really good!" I'm not sure I can convert him entirely, but its a start.
This orzo is my take on a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. I've tweaked it to make it South Beach friendly ... and left out the peas to make it husband friendly. I'm well pleased with my version. Its creamy, satisfying and very flavorful. I hope you'll try it!
Whole Wheat Orzo in Tomato, Basil, Parmesan Cream:
- 1 cup of whole wheat orzo
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- pinch of dried crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 ripe, red plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped*
- 1 1/4 cup of fat-free Half and Half
- 1/2 tsp. good quality dried basil*
- grating of fresh nutmeg
- generous grinding of fresh black pepper
- 1/2 (or more to taste) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- pinch of Kosher salt
In the same pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute, stirring constantly for one minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and saute, stirring, for 3 or 4 minutes or until the tomatoes just begin to soften. Add the fat-free half and half and stir to combine. Rub the dried basil between the palms of your hands to crumble it and add to the cream sauce along with the nutmeg and black pepper. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to the boil. Return the orzo to the pan, stir well to combine and lower the heat. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir to blend. Allow the pasta and sauce to simmer gently, stirring often, until some of the cream has been absorbed and the sauce is off a desirable consistency ... approximately 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more of anything you wish and a pinch of salt if necessary. Serve and enjoy!
*As written this dish will serve @ 4 people as a side dish. Amounts are flexible so feel free to experiment! As for the tomatoes - the original recipe calls for canned, diced tomatoes and those would certainly work. At this time of year, though, it would be a shame not to use fresh. I chose to use dried basil because it was simmered in the sauce, if you prefer fresh I would wait and add it at the end, just before serving. Bon appetit!