Monday, May 7, 2012

{Recipe and Book Review} Easy Orzo Pasta with Tomato Vinaigrette


Orzo with tomato vinaigrette
Hello everybody!

I guess this blog post is going to read like a book review.  Last week Giada De Laurentis was in town (Isssquah, WA-Seattle Metro Area) for a book signing. Now, my normal self would try to avoid standing in line for publicity events (i.e iPad launches, Black Friday sales). Gotta respect time, time is precious. However, this time I gave in. It's Giada, and she is one of my food network idols.  So when my good friend agreed to go with me, we went and stood in line for one hour just to catch a glimpse of Giada.

Giada signing her new cookbook.  Photo credit goes to my good friend KR.
Working in the home and kitchenware industry, we get to meet many celebrity chefs, but I have never been as star-struck as I was with Giada. She enthusiastically signed copies of everybody's book and greeted each one of us cheerfully. She has a really beautiful smile.  A lot of people asked me after meeting her if I thought her head was disproportionately huge. And in case you are curious, from my personal observations, I didn't think it was big at all- her head looked pretty normal to me.

Anyway, the book did not sit for very long before I put it to good use.  I took a quick look at all the ingredients in the pantry and decided to make the Orzo Tomato Vinaigrette pasta from her cookbook.  I just happened to have all the ingredients ready. I was also especially happy to get the opportunity to use my Kampot pepper (a gift from Cambodia) because the recipe called for it. The floral flavors of the peppercorn really sit on top of all the ingredients to tie them together perfectly.  As usual, Giada's recipes are simple but taste like you spent the whole day laboring over the stove, only you haven't.  I give this cookbook a Browncookie.com stamp of approval and a buy.

Here is the recipe adapted from Giada's new cookbook, I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading.
Julie

Orzo with smoky tomato vinaigrette

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Yield: 4 people

Ingredients:
1 pound (2 pints) cherry tomatoes
Kosher Salt
1 pound orzo pasta
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Smoked Salt (Ok to substitute with regular sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper (I used kampot pepper, which has a very strong floral flavor)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and heat it for about 30 seconds.  Next, add the cherry tomatoes and leave them to sizzle for about 1 minute.  When the tomato skins look like they are slightly charred, use a spatula to stir the pan. 
Tomatoes getting charred but not too charred.  You want it to be smokey, not burned.
After the skin is charred, move the tomatoes occasionally until the tomatoes have softened and released their juices.  (About 8-10 minutes).  Before removing, you will notice some tomatoe skins and charred areas stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan to remove the juicy bits.  Allow to cool.

Next, boil the orzo pasta according to the instruction on the package.  Most orzo pasta will cook to a perfect al dente in 8 to 10 mins.  Drain and transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.

In a small food processor, add tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, honey, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/4 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper.  Blend until smooth and no large chunks are left.

Toss the pasta together with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serve.  This dish is delicious when refrigerated, too. Pasta can also be chilled and served as a side salad for a picnic or outdoor event. For a weeknight dinner, you may also consider adding a piece of grilled or pan fried chicken breast on the side to round out a meal.

Source: Recipe adapted from Giada's new cookbook Weeknights with Giada

Disclosure: Browncookie.com was not paid or compensated in any way to write this blog post about Giada's new cookbook.  Her cookbook was purchased by us for reference and also to keep up with our knowledge of culinary trends.

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