Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tri-Colore Orzo - Giada De Laurentiis

I really, really like Giada. I mean, who doesn’t like Giada? I know my husband and all the male friends we have like Giada. Why, some of them even actually know that she’s a chef.

I have yet to make a Giada recipe that I don’t like. So when I saw this one, I just knew I had another home run on my hands. And in addition to that, it uses a cheese I have been wanting to try; ricotta salata. So I got all of the ingredients and was good to go.

First you cook the orzo. After draining it, the olive oil is mixed in well. Spread it out on a cookie sheet. When it is cooled, put it in a bowl and add salt and pepper.

Add dried cherries.

Add ricotta salata.

Add arugula and basil.

Next is fresh squeezed lemon juice. (no seeds, please)

Mmmm ... toasted pine nuts.

Then mix it all up and serve.

Here is what I learned:

First I learned that I don't care much for ricotta salata. It is pretty bland and a bit chalky. It has the same texture as feta, with a milder taste. But I'm not a huge fan of feta either. So no big surprise there.

Second, the lemon juice wasn't enough of a dressing.

Third, the cherries and arugula were perfect together. The sweetness of the cherries tasted great against the spiciness of the arugula. And the basil was a burst of flavor!

Fourth, it needed more pine nuts. But doesn't every dish need more pine nuts?

The final verdict was that my expectations were way too high. The dish definitely did not live up to them. However, the next night I reworked the leftovers. I picked out all of the ricotta salata and cubed up provolone and added that to the orzo. I thought the creamy mildness of the provolone suited the dish better. I added more chopped basil; not a whole lot, just a few more leaves. Next I threw in additional toasted pine nuts and cherries. I mixed it all together and it was looking good. I tasted it and it still needed something.

I went refrigerator shopping and was waiting for inspiration to hit. And it did! I had a bit of balsamic vinaigrette that Bob had made for a salad earlier in the week. That my friends is exactly what that orzo needed! I shook it up and drizzled it over the orzo, mixed it up real good, tasted it, and sat down because my knees were weak. Now we're talkin'!

I'm giving you the recipe as Giada wrote it. You can try it without changing a thing. Please let me say that these are just my opinions (and Bob's). Many of you might love feta and also might find you really like the ricotta salata.

The thing about this recipe is that I think you can be really flexible with it and have some fun. Next time I make it I might change up some of the ingredients and maybe use a flavored vinegar. Another option might be to use a different combination of dried fruits and greens. Try other cheeses. I think I'd stick with the orzo as the base, though. That seemed totally right.

Make it and let me know what you think! Won't be the first time I've been wrong. But whatever you do, do not tell Bob I just said that!

Tri-Colore Orzo
Giada De Laurentiis-

Prep Time: 15 min
Inactive Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

• 1 pound orzo pasta
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
• 2 cups fresh arugula (about 3 ounces)
• 3/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (or feta cheese)
• 1/2 cup dried cherries
• 12 fresh basil leaves, torn
• 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and put the pasta on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle the pasta with 3 tablespoons olive oil, toss, spread out, and set aside to cool.
Once the orzo is cool, transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Serve.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I see you love making Giada's recipes, I love her! But I was wondering if you had any recipes of your own. If you do, you should enter them into this cooking contest that's coming to Cleveland on September's the Aetna Healthy Food Fight. You can go to for more details, but the deadline for Cleveland is September 8th. Oh, and throughout the contest, celebrity cooks will be judging (Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson, Sara Moulton, or Cat Cora). Good luck if you decide to enter and if not, please post more recipes! :)