Orzo with spinach and tomatoes

And now, for another favorite recipe from our tiny, Clifton kitchen:  Rachael Ray’s Orzo with Spinach and Tomatoes.  Despite being an internet junkie, I’m usually not one to scan the interwebs for recipes, and so this recipe actually came from Rachael’s cookbook (which we own, because it’s awesome).

Suffice it to say, I’m glad we found it because not only is it delicious, but light and healthy as well.  With Joel doing P90X (almost) every day, and me trying to yoga my butt into shape, it’s nice to find recipes that are easy but won’t make us feel like we weigh 5,000 lbs.  Plus, the ingredients are easy to come by, and most importantly, cheap! You can check out the recipe from Rachael’s Web site, or read on for our abbreviated version.

First, orzo sounds fancy but is actually incredibly easy to find at your local grocery store.  Before and after cooking, it looks like rice, but in some ways I like it better than rice.  From someone who eats a lot of rice (aka, poor people’s food), the texture is more chewy and I believe it’s more filling than rice.  However, being a pasta, it can be a little bland.

The first step involves cooking about a cup of orzo in a pot of boiling water, treating it like any other pasta.  Rachael’s recipe calls for a cup and a half, but we made about 3/4 of a cup so we wouldn’t be overun by mountains of orzo.  While it cooks, shred or chop some fresh spinach, halve some grape tomatoes and stick everything in a big bowl.  When the orzo’s done (a little under 10 minutes), drain it then pour the pasta over the veggies.  The heat from the orzo will wilt the spinach.  Racheal’s recipe calls for lemon zest and 24 basil leaves, but as that all seems a bit expensive, I improvised.  I poured half a teaspoon of olive oil over the salad (as the recipe indicates), then drizzled a splash of lemon juice and dusted it lightly with dried basil.  Mix it all up and it’s ready to serve!  Joel and I added some parmasean cheese, because (like I said) orzo can be a bit bland.  Feta cheese would also have been yummy, now that I think about it.

This meal is definitely on the light side, and if you’re really hungry, I’d advise making some kind of side.  Rachael’s cookbook actually treats this as a side, but Joel and I rarely eat enough of one dish at a time, so it’s our main course.  I’m happy to have found this because I’ve been trying to unearth some meatless main courses (ones that don’t involve labor-intensive casseroles), and this works perfectly.  Try it out for yourself!

Image from here.

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