Thursday, May 27, 2010

Disappearing Zucchini Orzo and Prosciutto-Wrapped Radicchio

Several years ago I read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:  A Year of Food Life.  I went through a phase where I read every book even remotely related to food.  I have since grown out of that phase, but it must be said that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was one of the better books I read then.  While the book was a very interesting read, what really stuck with me was her recipe for "Disappearing Zucchini Orzo."  I had grated zucchini to use in zucchini breads before, but mixing grated zucchini into pasta had never crossed my mind.  And boy is it good and easy.  I think this is the perfect gateway dish to get kids to eat zucchini (then again how would I know since I don't have any).  The zucchini isn't a distinct and overwhelming flavor in this dish - instead it is somewhat masked by the taste of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, but you are still getting several servings of zucchini down in a really delicious fashion.  I also love that the whole dish comes together in a matter of minutes.  While you boil the pasta, you can grate the zucchini, chop the onion and garlic, then saute everything together.  Voila!  An easy, healthy, vegetarian weeknight meal.

We served our orzo this evening with prosciutto-wrapped radicchio - something I have been meaning to make for months now.  Alex loves prosciutto and I love the idea of using random vegetables like radicchio in different ways, so it really was the perfect dish for us.  I think the tang of the balsamic vinegar that I sprinkled on after I took the radicchio out of the pan was what really made the dish come together.  Without the balsamic it would have been a little blah, but with the balsamic it was yummy.

Recipe after the jump!

Disappearing Zucchini Orzo
Adapted from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:  A Year of Food Life
By Barbara Kingsolver

¾ lb pkg orzo pasta (use whole wheat if you want to be really healthy)
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large zucchini, grated
2 tbsp evoo
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook orzo until al dente, following package instructions, then drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.  If your orzo finishes up before the zucchini mixture is finished, drizzle with a little evoo (and stir to mix) to keep pasta from sticking together.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add zucchini, onions, and garlic.  Saute vegetables briefly until zucchini is lightly golden.  Add fresh thyme and oregano.  Stir to combine, then remove pan from heat.  Add cooked orzo, Parm-Reg, and s&p to taste.  If the pasta seems dry, then add a little pasta cooking water to help the cheese melt and the ingredients to come together to coat the pasta.

 Serve warm, cool, or at room temperature (I like it best warm, but it also makes a good picnic or potluck dish at room temperature).

Prosciutto-Wrapped Radicchio

1 tbsp evoo
1 radicchio, cored and cut into 8 wedges (I find the easiest way to do this is to cut the radicchio through the core lengthwise into quarters and then cut the core out on the diagonal before slicing each quarter in half)
4 slices prosciutto, sliced in half lengthwise
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
black pepper

Heat a 10 or 12-inch cast iron pan over medium-high heat.  Once pan is hot, add evoo.  Wrap wedges of radicchio with prosciutto slices and skewer with toothpicks.  Add prosciutto-wrapped radicchio wedges to the pan, taking care not to overcrowd.  If necessary, cook the radicchio in two batches.  Cook radicchio on all sides, until the prosciutto is golden-brown and crispy, and the radicchio turns darker burgundy in color, about 5 minutes total.  

Remove radicchio from pan to a plate.  Drizzle with balsamic.  Add freshly ground black pepper.  

Serve immediately.

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