There is a dish that I have enjoyed preparing and serving for many years called orzo pasta with fresh dill and feta cheese. It's one of my favorites not only because of its taste and appearance, but also because it's so flexible.
It can be served hot from the skillet or chilled the next day. It's wonderful as a stuffing for eggplants and zucchini. You may want to use some of it in a frittata the next day. I mix it into scrambled eggs in a skillet for a warming breakfast.
You should use pearl-shaped orzo pasta for this recipe because of its comforting, chewy texture and ability to absorb the clean flavors of the lemon, dill and extra virgin olive oil. If you can't find it, try acini de pepe shaped pasta, which translates into "little peppercorns" -- they look like tiny cylinders.
You can serve this hot with your favorite marinara sauce. Or serve it chilled or at room temperature over mixed greens.
Orzo pasta with feta and dill
Makes 4 entree servings; 8 side-dish servings
1 (16-ounce) box orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (see note)
juice of 2 lemons ( 1/4 cup)
1 (2-ounce) bunch dill, minced
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced, optional
Rinse the hot cooked pasta with cold water and drain. Place in a large nonreactive bowl. (This may be done the day before serving; cover and refrigerate.)
Place broccoli florets in a pan with about 1 inch of water, bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-high, and let cook 5 minutes or until tender. Alternatively, you can place broccoli in a microwave-safe dish with 1/2 inch of water. Cover loosely and microwave on high 3 minutes.
Rinse the cooked broccoli in cold water, drain and add to the orzo. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. If using the garlic, heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic and saute about 5 minutes or until golden. Add it along with the remaining ingredients to the orzo. (If not using the garlic, add all the oil to the orzo along with the other ingredients.)
Note: You can use the flavored varieties of feta such as tomato-basil or cracked peppercorn.
Per serving: 366 calories, 13 grams protein, 14 grams fat, 48 grams carbohydrates, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 637 milligrams sodium, 35 percent calories from fat.
Pub Date: 8/20/97