Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Trying something new: Orzo with Caramelized Fall Vegetables and Ginger

This is truly delicious. The only bad thing is that it does not make enough for three nights for Macon and for me.  When I make this now, I double the orzo and do 2 or 3 sweet potatoes to help stretch it out. 
I found this recipe here:  http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-orzo-wit-158228

Orzo Caramelized with Fall Vegetables & Ginger
serves 4 as a main dish and 6 as a side dish
INGREDIENTS:
Salt
1/2 pound orzo pasta
Grapeseed, peanut, or vegetable oil
1 large sweet potato (about 3/4 pound)
2 medium onions (about 1 pound), finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3-inch piece fresh ginger — peeled and grated, about 1 tablespoon
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps diced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 big leaves chard or kale, stalks removed and leaves finely chopped — about 2 cups
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan, optional
DIRECTIONS:
Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it generously. Cook the orzo until barely al dente — about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain and toss with a generous drizzle of oil so that the grains of orzo are lightly coated with oil. Set aside.
Peel the sweet potato and dice it finely into cubes about 1/4 to 1/2 inch to a side. Heat a large saut√© or frying pan (the largest you have — you want plenty of room and hot surface) over high heat. Drizzle in a little grapeseed or vegetable oil (not olive oil — you want an oil with a high smoke point) and heat until very hot. Add the sweet potatoes and arrange them in one layer. Cook them over high heat until they are beginning to caramelize and turn brown — about 4 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
Turn the heat down to medium and push the sweet potatoes up in a pile against one side of the pan. Add the diced onions to the center of the pan and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are beginning to turn brown. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and stir them into the onions. Push the onions off to the side of the pan, next to the sweet potatoes, where they will continue to caramelize.
Add the diced shiitake mushrooms to the hot center of the pan and cook them for 4 minutes without turning them. Then flip and stir them and cook for another 4 minutes.
At this point everything should be getting well-cooked; the onions should be quite dark brown and the garlic should be golden and soft. The potatoes should be softening.
Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour this into the pan with the vegetables and mix everything together, scraping the bottom as you go. Cook all the elements together for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Then turn the heat up to high, as high as it will go.
Add the orzo gradually, shaking in a cup at a time, and stirring and scraping constantly. Cook the orzo over high heat with the rest of the vegetables for about 5 minutes, letting the orzo get browned on the bottom of the pan, then scraping it up. You are developing a little more color and flavor on the pasta, and helping all the flavors combine.
Finally, toss the chopped greens into the mix and cook for 1 more minute or until the greens are barely wilted. Turn off the heat and taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot, with shavings of Parmesan if desired.

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