Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 15: Orzo with Peas and Lemon-Herb Sauce

I'll be anxious to hear Paul's review of tonight's dinner.  I have a hair appointment at 3:30, and yesterday I found out that my friend Charan  would be presenting his thoughts on Social Media Marketing in the Arts which I can't miss, so I'm feeling rather guilty that I'm making Paul cook after another long day at work (he leaves at 5:00 a.m. and if I'm lucky gets home by 6:30 p.m.).  Orzo with Peas and Lemon-Herb Sauce from The Complete Vegan Cookbook is on the menu tonight, so all he'll have to do is boil the pasta, and toss it with the sauce that I've prepared.  Even though the author planned this dish to be served as a main course I'll be using it as a side dish to my oven baked "fried chicken".  I normally use regular bread crumbs when making fried chicken (baked or otherwise) but today I'll be trying Panko breading -- fingers crossed!

Update:  Paul and Kevin loved the orzo, and so did I!  Luckily all of us love garlic because I used two huge cloves!  The only thing I would change would be to add some kind of chopped nuts.  I just think it would have been better with something that goes crunch.  Or maybe I could add some diced celery, or sliced radish...hmm.  The breading on the chicken didn't brown as much as I'd like but it sure tasted good, and had a great crunch.

Orzo with Peas and Lemon-Herb Sauce
The Complete Vegan Cookbook
Yield: 4 main dish servings

2 cups chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried red chili flakes
1 1/8 cups fresh or frozen shelled peas (see NOTE)
2 cups dried orzo (about 1 pound)

     Bring several quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large stockpot.
     Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine the parsley with the mint, garlic, stock, oil, lemon juice, fennel seeds, salt, and chili flakes.  Blend until fairly smooth and set aside in a large serving bowl.
     When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the peas.  Bring the water back to a boil, then remove the peas immediately if using the frozen variety, or cook for 1 minute if using fresh peas.  Remove the peas from the water with a wire strainer, or slotted spoon, and bring the water back to a boil.  drain the peas well, then add them to the sauce in the bowl.
     Add the orzo to the boiling water and stir.  Bring the pot back to a boil and cook until the orzo is al dente, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
     When the pasta is ready, transfer it to a large fine mesh strainer and drain it well.  Add it to the peas and sauce, and toss until everything is well combined.  Serve immediately.

NOTE:  If using frozen peas, place them in a colander and rinse briefly under warm water to melt off any ice crystals before adding them to the dish.

Oven Baked "Fried" Chicken
From Ann's Brain
Yield:  Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup of Panko breading

Preheat oven to 400

Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry, and place into bowl, and add buttermilk.  Chicken breasts should be just covered -- add more buttermilk if needed.  Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate (here's where the cookbooks say refrigerate over night, but I'm never that organized.  I usually refrigerate anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.
Prepare 2 plates:  One empty to hold chicken after removing from buttermilk.  Spread Panko breading evenly onto the second plate.  Remove chicken from bowl, and place on first plate.  Season one side of chicken with salt and pepper, and then place seasoned side down on second plate.  Season remaining side with salt and pepper. and turn breast, ensuring both sides are well coated with the Panko breading.  Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Lightly spray top of chicken breast with non-stick spray, and bake 30-35 minutes.  Chicken is done when browned and cooked through (pierce meat to check if juices run clear).

Tomorrow night:  Corn, Bean, and Pumpkin Stew!


  1. The Day After Orzo: The first thing I did tonight when I got home from work is head for the refrigerator for another bowl of the orzo. Loved the garlic and the texture. It was easy to cook the orzo when I got home from work last night. I can boil water and set a timer for 10 minutes! The chicken was great too. I liked the breading - kind of a new twist on the chicken scene...