Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vegetable Orzo with Fresh Mozzarella

If you think light, healthful, and vegetarian means bland, boring, and unsatisfying, think again. Some of the tastiest and most satisfying dishes are also good for you—especially when they include lots of colorful vegetables.

The orzo in this recipe provides a pleasantly chewy texture, and fresh mozzarella adds a little creaminess. (See more on the mozzarella balls here.)

Cherry-Sized Mozzarella Balls
About the orzo: I used a black and white variety (the black noodles are colored with squid ink), but all white, or any kind of pasta you like, will be just as good.

Black and White Orzo
Flavorful, nutritious, and cooks in less than 10 minutes. Pretty, too.

Serves 4

  • 2/3 cup dry orzo
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk baby bok choy, chopped (including small leaves)      
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large orange or yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz cocktail or cluster tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano  
  • 8 cherry-sized fresh mozzarella balls, quartered (about 3 oz)
Sauce Ingredients
Prepared Sauce Ingredients
  1. Cook the orzo in boiling, salted water until al dente, 7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the garlic, baby bok choy, and all bell peppers. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes begin to break down, 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked orzo to the vegetable mixture and stir in the oregano.
Garlic, Bok Choy, and Bell Peppers 
Tomatoes and Mushrooms Added 
Orzo Added to Sauce
To serve, divide among 4 pasta bowls and top with mozzarella pieces. 

Vegetable Orzo with Fresh Mozzarella

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