With groceries and gas sky high, I have been on a rather frugal kick lately. One of my first steps was to completely revamp how and where I shop for groceries. The second step was to do a better job of using everything I have on hand. This means all the food has to be organized for weekly inventory. The third step, is finding the right recipes, both to use things up and for whatever is on sale that week. We no long buy whatever groceries we please. We just buy whatever is good quality and on sale. .
I was doing a quick search for spring recipes using peas and Giada's Crispy Orzo with Peas caught my attention because it called for four primary ingredients I've been trying to use up: orzo, coconut milk, fresh ginger, and frozen peas. The only other ingredients I needed were: scallions, olive oil, and lemon. I always have those on hand.
I was drawn to this dish because I've never fried pasta before and I was interested to see what the texture of the fried orzo would be like alongside the softer orzo and the peas.
The whole dish was easy enough to put together and I always love the aroma of coconut milk bubbling away on the stove top. The orzo pasta becomes very creamy when it cooks in the coconut milk and the ginger goes a long way in flavoring the pasta. The pasta sauteed easily enough and as I was tasting along the way, I noticed that I tended to enjoy the pasta more when it was only lightly fried, so I went with that. I think Giada fries her pasta to a golden brown, but I think it is up to personal preference on how you like it. Definitely taste as you go!
I was eager to try the dish and found that I loved the contrast of soft orzo, chewy orzo, and crispy orzo, especially with the pop of the peas. It was certainly an interesting dish, one that marries Italian pasta with Chinese Fried Rice. I found myself wanting to add either Parmesan cheese or soy sauce and I couldn't decide which I wanted more, so I just ate as it was and enjoyed it! I think this would make for a very tasty vegetarian meal with a crispy fried egg on top, and as I ponder the flavor profiles a little more, I dare say a dash or two of soy sauce!
I really liked this and I would definitely make it again. I think this would be a good choice for anyone looking to really change things up. It is definitely interesting!
Crispy Orzo with Peas
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
1 can light coconut milk
one 2-inch piece ginger, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups orzo pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice*
In a medium saucepan, add the coconut milk, ginger, 1 tablespoon salt some pepper, to taste, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and stir. Cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until the pasta is al dente, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove and discard the ginger.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat for 1 minute more. Add the drained orzo and spread out evenly in the skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until the bottom of the pasta is starting to get browned and crispy, about 4 minutes. Flip the pasta, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and continue to cook, undisturbed, until the other side is browned, about 4 minutes more. Flip again and brown another 3 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper and stir in the peas and scallions. Cook another 2 minutes to warm through. Finish with the lemon juice. Serve warm.