Orzo with Caramelized Fall Vegetables & Ginger

One thing I asked for my birthday was that Patrick put together the "meal plan" for the week! This can be quite the task so it was nice to have a small break - thanks Patrick! Here's what he put together:

Tues potato soup and cornbread (use frozen ham)
Wed fresh fish (whatever looks good, salmon works) with side salad
Thurs pork schnitzel with side salad (use frozen pork)
Fri sweet potato veggie orzo, something like this
Sat breakfast buttermilk waffles
   dinner out
Sun breakfast baked oatmeal
   dinner Baked chicken breast, couscous

As you can see Patrick left some details out (ie, what should go on the side salad and what marinade/seasonings should be used for the baked chicken breast Sunday).

Before Patrick set off on making the meal plan he asked what we needed to use up in the freezer/pantry. We had some sweet potatoes that I requested he use. So he decided that "sweet potato veggie orzo" was a good idea... like I said -- missing some details. But then he offered a recipe. Here's the "something like this" as he put it.

Orzo with Caramelized Fall Vegetables & Ginger from thekitchn.com
   Serves 4 as main dish or 6 as side dish
1/2 pound orzo pasta
2-3 tbsp grapeseed, peanut, or vegetable oil
1 large sweet potato (about 3/4 pound)
2 medium onions (about 1 pound), finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3-inch piece fresh ginger — peeled and grated, about 1 tablespoon
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps diced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 big leaves chard or kale, stalks removed and leaves finely chopped — about 2 cups
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan, optional

   Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it generously. Cook the orzo until barely al dente — about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain and toss with a generous drizzle of oil so that the grains of orzo are lightly coated with oil. Set aside.
   Peel the sweet potato and dice it finely into cubes about 1/4 to 1/2 inch to a side. Heat a large sauté or frying pan (the largest you have — you want plenty of room and hot surface) over high heat. Drizzle in a little grapeseed or vegetable oil (not olive oil — you want an oil with a high smoke point) and heat until very hot. Add the sweet potatoes and arrange them in one layer. Cook them over high heat until they are beginning to caramelize and turn brown — about 4 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
   Turn the heat down to medium and push the sweet potatoes up in a pile against one side of the pan. Add the diced onions to the center of the pan and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are beginning to turn brown. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and stir them into the onions. Push the onions off to the side of the pan, next to the sweet potatoes, where they will continue to caramelize.
   Add the diced shiitake mushrooms to the hot center of the pan and cook them for 4 minutes without turning them. Then flip and stir them and cook for another 4 minutes.
   At this point everything should be getting well-cooked; the onions should be quite dark brown and the garlic should be golden and soft. The potatoes should be softening.
   Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour this into the pan with the vegetables and mix everything together, scraping the bottom as you go. Cook all the elements together for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Then turn the heat up to high, as high as it will go.
   Add the orzo gradually, shaking in a cup at a time, and stirring and scraping constantly. Cook the orzo over high heat with the rest of the vegetables for about 5 minutes, letting the orzo get browned on the bottom of the pan, then scraping it up. You are developing a little more color and flavor on the pasta, and helping all the flavors combine.
   Finally, toss the chopped greens into the mix and cook for 1 more minute or until the greens are barely wilted. Turn off the heat and taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot, with shavings of Parmesan if desired.

I found that the high heat wasn't necessary when sauteing the vegetables. We really enjoyed the dish; has a lot of the savory Asian flavors we like!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good. I like sweet potatoes and we have been using kale a lot lately.