Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The orzo honor of Nicole

Since I haven't been able to cook lately because of an exam today in pediatrics, I thought I'd share two super simple dishes just for fun. Hopefully, tonight, Rick and I will be able to have dinner together. Today, he told me via email that he grilled out last night while I was slaving away in the library. He did lemon pepper chicken last night, and he was enjoying leftovers at work when I heard from him. You know, I really hate when school gets busy, and we don't get to see each other. I think it makes me a little grumpy, too. At least it will be over in December!!! 

During my first semester of nursing school, I came upon this recipe while looking for a side dish. Unfortunately, Rick and I can't seem to remember which one, though. That semester, I was required to do some sort of community service activity for one of my classes, and I signed up to go to a potluck dinner that SNA was doing at the Ansonborough House in downtown Charleston. I decided that this dish would be an easy, delicious one to take. When making the orzo with artichoke hearts and pine nuts, I followed some of the suggestions from the reviewers on the website and added capers, 3 cheese blend, and grilled chicken. The day of the potluck, I was talking about it to my clinical instructor Nicole about it, and she wanted me to send her the recipe. Due to my hectic schedule in nursing school, I kept forgetting to send it to her. This semester, I ran into her at the VA during one of our community clinicals, and I am happy to report that I have finally sent it to her. Luckily for her, that recipe inspired this other one, too, and I was able to send it as well. These dishes are great either hot or cold! Enjoy!

Here is the original untouched recipe.

Gourmet May 2006

Canned artichoke hearts give this dish a Mediterranean flavor without the work involved in preparing fresh ones.
Yield: Makes 4 side-dish servings
Active Time: 15 min
Total Time: 15 min

1 1/2 cups orzo (10 oz)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 (14-oz) can whole artichoke hearts (not marinated)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

Cook orzo in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander.
While orzo cooks, lightly toast pine nuts in a dry small skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 1 minute, then coarsely chop.
Drain artichoke hearts in a large sieve and rinse well. Pull off leaves from bases of hearts and quarter bases. Rinse leaves and bases well, then drain thoroughly.
Stir together oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add orzo, pine nuts, artichokes (leaves and bases), parsley, and zest and toss to combine.

My changes:

  • added two grilled chicken breasts that have been seasoned with Italian seasoning and marinaded for about 30 minutes with the seasoning and red wine vinegar and a little bit of lemon juice prior to grilling. I shred/chop it up and mix it in.
  • added about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of 3 Cheese Blend (Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano)
  • added chopped capers.

That recipe along with some leftover basil (now we grow our own!) inspired this recipe.

1 container of Feta cheese with tomato basil
½ Red onion (minced)
3 cloves of Garlic (minced)
2-3 tablespoons Fresh Basil (chopped)
3 chicken breasts
2 marinated artichoke hearts (if they are quartered, use 8 to make 2 full artichoke hearts)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
Red pepper flakes
½ box of orzo

Marinate chicken breasts in balsamic vinegar, one clove garlic, ground pepper, (3-4 twists), a dash of red pepper flakes, and one teaspoon basil for around 30 minutes.
Fix orzo per box instructions. Drain and return to pot.
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil with ¼ teaspoon basil in a pan and then add to orzo. Add remaining basil, feta cheese, and artichoke hearts to orzo.
In the same pan, add chicken and some of the marinade and sauté chicken breasts until done. Chop and shred chicken and add it to the orzo. Pepper to taste. Mix together thoroughly and serve.

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