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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zucchini Orzo

Well, my trip to the farmers market yesterday resulted in several more zucchini to add to my produce drawer. There is just so much of them and I have trouble resisting the low, low price. I had already made a zucchini carpaccio salad earlier this week (see my July 12 entry) so last night I decided to utilize my new zucchinis in one of my favorite pasta dishes, Zucchini Orzo.

One of the most inspiring books I have read on seasonal and local eating is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It's informative, witty and contains lots of fun recipes and cooking tips. This recipe is adapted from one of the recipes in the "Zucchini Larceny" chapter in the book. I have made it at least a dozen times and each time I make it a little differently, but it always turns ou
t well. This time I threw in some sweet little grape tomatoes (first fresh tomatoes I've picked up this season!) to add a little contrast and color into the dish, or you could throw in some sauteed mushrooms, red peppers, basically anything you have on hand.

In our household, I try my darndest to limit our intake of processed white starches to once per week. This is not an easy feat, me being a pasta addict (if that is not an actual diagnosable condition, it sure as heck should be). And when we do splurge and have white pasta, this is a great dish to make because I literally use just as much zucchini as orzo.
When I make this dish for my husband and I, I use a half pound of pasta and we end up eating just half of it-- and that's when we are really hungry.

Now, I have to point out that this recipe uses a lot of zucchini. A lot. So much that you'll proba
bly think you're doing something wrong. When you are mid-way through grating the third zucchini chances are you are going to look at the pile you are amassing and think "this is just an absurd amount of squash" and will double check the recipe. But trust me, it'll be just right.

Zucchini Orzo

1/2 lb orzo
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
salt & pepper to taste

Place the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit in the sink for at least 15 minutes to allow the salt to draw out the excess moisture.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the onion over med heat until beginning to soften. While the onion is cooking, drop the orzo in a pot of heavily salted boiling water (the water should taste like seawater, as Mario Batali says). Add the garlic to the pan with the onion and saute a minute or so until the garlic starts to become fragrant. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and stock and cook for a few minutes.

Drain the orzo, reserving a cup or so of the starchy, salty cooking liquid. Add the pasta and Parmesan cheese into the pan, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if it looks dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  1. Can't wait to try this. Levi might like this even more than "Monsta Balls", lol.

  2. I forwarded this on to my friends! Can I just throw the zuchinni in a food processor with a grater blade?

  3. Hi Victoria, you can absolutely grate the zucchini in the food processor, that would make it even easier! Hope you enjoy it!

  4. Hi Ray,
    Linda is coming to the island this weekend. I am making porchetta, so I thought this would go well with it. It sounds so good! I will let you know the outcome.

  5. Hi Rachel,
    Made this recipe two nights ago and everyone loved it. It was a great vegetarian entre with a salad. I did use the larger grater blade on the food processor for the zucchini and the onion and it worked fine. I can't wait to try the stir fry.

  6. I made this last night to go with grilled tuna and it was absolutely delicious!! Added some fresh thyme at the end and it worked well. Enough for a small army, but that's ok, will eat tonight.