Sunday, October 6, 2013

Orzo with Caramelized Fall Vegetables, Bacon, and Ginger

Sorry I've been neglecting this food blog! I had a bunch of great summer recipes I planned on posting but then I got really busy at work and lazy at home. Well, at least I know I'll have recipes to post next summer. 

October, where is all the cool and brisk weather we're supposed to be having??? It's been crazy warm the past few days and the girls and I are not pleased. I love fall and it just doesn't feel like fall yet! I'm craving some of my fall recipes (which are mainly soups and stews) but it's just too hot for those kinds of foods. So I was really excited to see this recipe pop up again on my favorite food blog, The Kitchn. It takes a bit of time to make but it's pretty easy and it has all those delicious fall flavors that I've been craving.  I made this dish with turkey bacon because in case you couldn't tell from my past recipes, I <3 bacon (of all kinds), but you can easily make this vegetarian by not adding any bacon, and it can even be made vegan if you omit the cheese at the end as well. Alternatively, I bet this would taste great with some sausage instead of bacon.

Servings: The original recipe says this serves 4 as a main dish and 6 as a side dish, but I think this is a 2-3 mealer for me.

1 cup dried orzo
1 large sweet potato (or two small/medium ones), peeled and diced
2 medium onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 slices of thick bacon, diced (I used Trader Joe's peppered uncured turkey bacon)
6-8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 cups chard or kale, stalks removed and chopped
Grapeseed, peanut, or vegetable oil
Shaved parmesan to top (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook 1 cup dried orzo according to instructions but only for 6 to 7 minutes until it's barely al dente. Drain orzo, stir in a little bit of oil, and set aside.
  • Heat a very large pan over high heat and then heat up a little bit of oil in the pan if you're not going to add bacon. (Use an oil with a high smoke point, so that means no olive oil.) If you are making this with bacon, cook the bacon for a few minutes and then spoon the bacon into a bowl and set aside but leave the bacon grease in the pan. (If you're using turkey bacon or a low fat bacon, you may need to add some oil to the pan if there's not enough leftover in the pan.)
  • Add the peeled and diced sweet potato to the pan and spread it out into one layer. Cook for about 4 minutes until the potatoes start to brown and then flip/stir the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Lower the heat to medium, push the potatoes to one side and add two diced onions to the pan with a sprinkle of salt. Cook onions for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown.
  • Add 1 tbsp minced ginger and 4 minced garlic cloves to the onions.  Stir together and push to the side next to the potatoes.
  • Add 6-8 oz diced shiitake mushrooms to the pan and let cook for about 4 minutes.  Flip/stir the mushrooms and then cook for another 4 minutes.
  • Add back in the cooked bacon and stir everything together. All the ingredients should be browning nicely and the potatoes should be softened.
  • Whisk together 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, and 2 tbsp oil (I ran out of my other oil and had to use sesame (love the taste of sesame oil!), which doesn't have a high smoke point but at this point most of the cooking is done and I didn't have too many problems so long as the vent fan was on high). 
  • Pour the vinegar-oil mixture into the pan and mix everything together, scraping the bottom as needed.  Cook for about 3 minutes. (If the food is really sticking, you can add a tiny bit of water to help scrape.)
  • Increase heat to medium-high and gradually add in the cooked orzo, continuing to scrape the bottom as needed. Cook for about 5 minutes. The orzo should be browning nicely, helping to deepen the flavor and color of the orzo with all the other ingredients.
  • Stir in 2 cups of chopped chard or kale and cook for about 1 minute so that the greens are just wilted into the mixture.
  • Remove pan from heat and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Before serving, top each dish with some shaved parmesan (optional).
Sunny and Rosy volunteered to be tasters, but too bad they can't have onions! I did set aside two itty bitty bites of bacon for them after I cooked it.
You don't have to add the cheese at the end but it really adds a nice punch of flavor to the dish!
The girls are looking at the dish so longingly!
Hey, keep that tongue in check Rosy! No tasting!
Ok, enough torturing the girls. Now it's time for their well-deserved bacon treat!

This recipe does take some time to caramelize all the vegetables but it's such a fantastic fall dish! I'll definitely be adding this to my regular rotation of favorite recipes.

Adapted from The Kitchn.

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