Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Week 6: Orzo with Sausage, White Beans, and Kale


I've wanted to make orzo ever since a coworker brought a delicious orzo and vegetable salad tossed simply with olive oil to a potluck last spring. So I bought some dried colorful orzo from Fairway in bulk, and then kind of forgot about it in the back of my cabinet, not sure what to do with it.

Then I was reminded of it when I saw a post on Serious Eats about cooking orzo as a kind of short-cut risotto. I looove risotto - it's one of my go-to dishes - and the idea of being able to make something almost like risotto in less than half the time sounded brilliant.

So last night I was starving on the way home, dreaming up a creamy orzo dish that I would make as soon as I walked in the door. I figured I could make it quickly, have a bite to satiate my hunger, and then save the rest for lunch tomorrow. But Jesse got home earlier than I expected, so there wasn't time to cook before we went off in the snow in search of sushi. Instead, I ended up making a cozy orzo dish later that night, long after we had returned home, shaken off the snow, drank some wine, and he fell asleep. He is in for a real treat when he opens his lunch box tomorrow.

It surprised me in how creamy it turned out. I threw a ton of stuff in there, including local turkey sausage, a can of white beans (yes I feel guilty about using a can lined with plastic that leaches potentially harmful chemicals but sometimes convenience wins), parsley leftover from making falafel over the weekend (yes I know parsley is not in season right now, but a girl's gotta have some fun sometimes), and even a couple leaves of kale so I can pretend I am being healthy without it overwhelming the flavor. Altogether, it formed a cozy one-pot winter dish that is tender and delicious, and with enough parmesan, tastes almost like risotto.

Orzo with Sausage, White Beans, and Kale

1/2 lb sausage
2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
handful of kale, rinsed and torn into pieces
1 can white beans (or 3/4 cup dried white beans soaked and cooked)
1 1/2 cup dried orzo
3 cups water
salt
pepper
crushed red pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat sausage in a large pot over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add garlic and onion, turn down to low heat, add a little olive oil or butter if necessary to keep from sticking to bottom of pan, and sautee until onions soften. Add kale and white beans and continue to sautee another few minutes until kale wilts. Add orzo and stir to combine. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, and then let simmer for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the water is absorbed and orzo is creamy and tender. Add pepper, crushed red pepper, parmesan, and parsley (optional).

All ingredients for this meal were found at Greenmakets from farms within approximately 250 miles away, except except for dried bulk orzo, beans, salt, pepper, red pepper, and parmesan. So I guess you could say half local on this one.

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