Thursday, May 8, 2014

Creamy Spring Orzo Pasta

Easy weeknight dinner...fresh and delicious.  By Thursday night I'm really tired and I don't feel like cooking so I usually throw a quick pasta dish together.  This pasta is so great for spring using fresh English peas and asparagus.  I purchased my peas already shucked from the pod to save time, but you could use frozen peas and it would taste just a delicious.  For the herbs I used only fresh parsley, but tarragon would of been a great addition.  And instead of using pine nuts because they are outrageously expensive $35/pound, I used slithered almonds, toasted lightly.  You couldn't even tell the difference and they added a great contrasting texture to the orzo.
(Serves 2)

1/2 pound orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 TBSP minced garlic
1/2-3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup shucked fresh English peas or frozen
1/2 lb asparagus, tossed in EVOO, s&p and roasted in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes and then cut on a 1" bias
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2-3/4 cup cashew milk (1/4 cup soaked cashews blended with 3/4 cup water in high-speed blender)
1-2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted almonds or pine nuts
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Parsley for garnish


Cook pasta to al dente (about 9 minutes), drain well and set aside.  In a medium sized saute pan add olive oil and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for about a minute.  Deglaze with vegetable stock and reduce by half.  Add orzo (you may not use it all), asparagus, peas, cashew milk, lemon zest salt and pepper to taste and cook until heated through and creamy.  (If using fresh peas you may need to add them first to the vegetable stock and cook for about two minutes before adding the other ingredients.)  If sauce becomes too thick or liquid is absorbed by the pasta, add more vegetable stock and/or cashew milk.  Stir in fresh parsley, lemon juice and top with toasted almonds.


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