Friday, July 22, 2011

Zucchini Orzo with Garlic and Basil

Thank God for zucchini this year!

To my everlasting shame, I am one of the few Midwesterners who cannot always reliably grow zucchini.  Every year I listen to person after person chortle about drowning in zucchini, leaving bags of zucchini hanging on mailboxes and front doors, and feeding zucchini to every unsuspecting animal they have.  Meanwhile, I'm out there counting male after male among my zucchini blossoms and praying for a female to show up and give me some decent fruit.  (Maybe I watch too much?  Perhaps my zucchini need more reproductive privacy.)

Anyway, this year we are finally getting the zucchini I was denied last year, and I'm sure not wasting a single fruit.  I'm freezing it, plan to make relish from it, and we are having it in some form for dinner every night.  One of my favorite ways is Zucchini Orzo with Garlic and Basil.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, one of my favorite ultra-realistic books about gardening.  I reread it about once a season, and it has gotten me through many a February as I live vicariously through her tales of canning tomatoes and planting garlic.  I've adapted this recipe to better fit our tastes and our garden.  Your house will smell like a fine Italian restaurant after you cook!

Zucchini Orzo with Garlic And Basil

1 package orzo pasta
1 package (5oz) or equivalent shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
2-3 medium zucchini, shredded
big handful of basil, shredded
olive oil

In a saute pan, saute chopped garlic in olive oil while pasta boils and you shred the zucchini.  When zucchini is shredded, add to garlic and saute until wilted.  (The more you saute, the more it cooks down, a helpful tip if you are trying to "hide" zucchini from a picky family member.)

To garlic and zucchini, add cooked orzo, Parmesan, and a big handful of chopped basil.  Saute until mixed and cheese is melted.  Top with fresh cracked black pepper and serve.

The Analysis

Fast:  This cooks up in about 20 minutes, so call it 30 minutes from garden to table.

Cheap:  If your garden gives you the veggies, then you will only be buying orzo and Parmesan, which makes this ultra-cheap.  It gives 4-5 hearty servings, depending on how much zucchini you put in there.

Good:  Did I mention I love this stuff?  I love any mac-n-cheese dish, and this is a nice, light, summery version of mac-n-cheese.  I need to freeze some shredded zucchini so I can make it once or twice over the winter as well.

(Note:  What follows, for those of you reading on the actual blog page rather than the RSS or email feed, is an affiliate link for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  If you decide to add this to your winter survival library and use this link, I'll get a small cut.  If you don't, please visit a local bookseller and keep those dollars in your community!)

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