Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Orzo With Roasted Vegetables & Goat Cheese

I think comfort foods are usually associated with winter months, right? It's cold, it's snowy, you don't leave the house that often, and you want something warm and filling to make you feel good. Now that spring is here, how about some lighter comfort food? I've been making this for years and I can't for the life of me remember where the recipe came from since I just have it written on notebook paper.

So if this is your recipe, feel free to claim it! I love making this because it's easy, it's yummy, and it involves cheese. The quality of the produce in the grocery stores is starting to pick up and I love that this dish includes so many different colors. I did my shopping for this at the new Whole Foods in Brookline, which is just as wonderful as I expected it to be. It's teeny tiny by Whole Foods standards, but I think it's perfect for the neighborhood. And the produce is far superior to Trader Joe's. Soz, Joe. And speaking of new grocery stores, who's been to the Bee's Knees Supply Company? It's the new gourmet grocery store and deli in the Fort Point neighborhood and it's amazing. I spent my entire lunch break there a few weeks ago and I could have spent an entire pay check as well. Among the things I came home with was this box of farro orzo. Score.

This is so easy. Here are the rest of the details:

1 sweet pepper, cubed
3/4 lb. zucchini, cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1-2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup orzo (whole wheat, farro, whatever you prefer)
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1-2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
4 ounces of goat cheese

Preheat your oven to 425. As always when cutting vegetables for roasting, try to make sure all of the pieces are the same size. You don't want some tiny piece burning and ruining your whole game. Put the chopped pepper, zucchini, and onion in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and salt and pepper and toss them with your hands so everything is evenly coated.

The colors just make me happy. Definitely try to use an orange or yellow pepper for this recipe. Not only for the color, but they're right down the middle of the sweetness road of peppers. Green = not sweet enough; Red = too sweet.

Pop these in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, tossing once. As I've mentioned before, my oven is off so these only took about 25 minutes. Just keep an eye on them. If they start to get too dark, then yank them out. While the veggies are roasting, cook your orzo according to package directions. Chop and de-seed your tomatoes.

I always de-seed tomatoes when I cook with them. I don't think any dish needs the extra moisture. Plus the seed part is kind of slimey and gross. You can just use your hands and pick out the seeds. Messy, but worth it.

Chop your basil too. Take your time and get your nose in there because the smell of fresh basil is one of the best smells in life. My go-to meal when it's too hot to move let alone cook is a caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I'll even get a little crazy and add some peaches or burrata. Don't knock the peaches until you try them. Their sweetness is amazing with mozzarella and balsamic.

Take your vegetables out of the oven and put them in a large bowl. They should be charred, but not too charred. These are a little too "done," but no harm no foul. Then just add the cooked orzo, tomatoes, basil, and crumble the goat cheese in with your fingers. Four ounces of goat cheese may be a little much if you're not a big fan of it so feel free to add less. You'd be crazy if you're not a big fan of goat cheese, but to each their own.

I like to drizzle the balsamic vinegar on right before serving. If you're going to have leftovers, then I suggest leaving the balsamic until after you reheat. It brightens it up perfectly. This is creamy, and tangy, and the vegetables are sweet and smokey. Yum, yum, yum. You can use any pasta with this too and it can definitely be served at room temperature, which makes it perfect for barbecues or pot lucks. And it's vegetarian friendly :)

What's your go-to barbecue side dish? Please tell me you like goat cheese. And lastly, do you get as excited by new grocery stores as I do?

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