Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Toasted Orzo with Olives and Lemon

This is a yummy side dish that is quick to make. I like it with fish or chicken. Toasting the orzo (rice-shaped pasta) in olive oil before cooking it in water gives it a nutty taste and a golden color. Orzo can be found in the bulk section of the Lost River Market & Deli.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) orzo
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup slivered black olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add orzo; cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 4 cups water and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover, and simmer until orzo is al dente (al dente [al-DEN-tay] is an Italian phrase meaning "to the tooth," used to describe pasta or other food that is cooked only until it offers a slight resistance when bitten into, but which is not soft or overdone.) and liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes (if orzo is cooked but liquid remains, cook uncovered to evaporate).
Remove from heat. Stir in olives, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and lemon juice.

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