Thursday, January 17, 2008

January 17: Baked Orzo With Peppers And Cheese

Orzo is one of my very favorite pasta shapes. It is so versetile and so easy, great in so many applications. I've had it hot, tossed with chopped spinach and garlic and olive oil, cold with a salsa vinaigrette and grilled chicken breast, plain with butter and parmesan and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs.

Orzo is small, rice-shaped pasta, and it can be prepared much like rice can--toasted in oil or butter with an aromatic like onion or garlic, then simmered in liquid until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Alternately, you can throw a half-cup of orzo in a vegetable or bean soup in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Yum.

I like the looks of this recipe. It's almost like macaroni and cheese with a Mexican spin on it, and along those lines, I think it'd be a great side to something like a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, with some sauteed apples or something on the side, or instead of rice with a green-sauced chicken enchilada. Serves 4.

Baked Orzo With Peppers And Cheese

2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
1/3 cup diced green chilies
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits
1 cup orzo
1 cup diced Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Add salt into boiling water, add orzo; boil 10 to 12 minutes until tender; drain. Put orzo into lightly buttered dish with peppers, chilies and Monterey Jack. Spread sour cream evenly over top, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, dot with butter. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, top shelf of oven until golden and puffy. Cool slightly.

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