Although we had a heatwave a few weeks ago, the chilly air is back in the Pacific Northwest, especially when the clouds float in. They feel like a warm cocoon, and I welcome their presence. We need the rain, I hear it’s on the way, as its been sparse this Spring. Predictions forecast a warmer summer.
Thinking there may be a tiny, infinitesimal chance the heatwave turbocharged the ripening of strawberries, I took a drive out to one of the farms yesterday, not because I’m anxious to get my hands on fresh strawberries or anything.
Pulling up to Bell’s Farm stand is a pleasure. A rustic shed sets adjacent to a flock of sheep who, in the summer will eat any corn husks offered from the farm stand. On the other and opposite side is Bell’s strawberry patch, where the juiciest strawberries on the Island are grown. Her larger strawberry patch sets back on a high bluff overlooking Puget Sound, and beyond, the Olympic Mountains. Can you imagine?
Gazing out over the strawberry field I found abundant white flowers, busy bees pollinating and …
….vibrant green berries.
Feeling a little deflated, I strolled over to the farm stand to see what was fresh. Slowly pulling open the refrigerator door, I found a few bags of baby kale which made my trip worthwhile. I slipped a five into the cash box and headed to the grocery to pick up my first few pints of strawberries from California. I could wait no more.
As far as produce goes from our local farms, we’re a bit later than most of the country due to our climate. I find myself hoarding baby kale and eating this kale salad frequently; the greens are so tender and sweet. Pea shoots, green garlic and herbs are making their appearance as well, and asparagus is a regular now at our Co-Op; it always makes its way into my cart.
Asparagus, besides being delicious, is loaded with nutrients that provide digestive support, is anti-inflammatory, promotes heart health, and is packed with antioxidants. It can be eaten raw, sautéed, steamed, or roasted.
If the stalks seem too woody, I use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer skin of the stalk. I find, though, the freshest asparagus is pretty tender, so very little of the stem needs to be trimmed. To keep asparagus fresh, I store it with the base of the stems wrapped in a damp paper towel and try to enjoy them within 48 hours of purchasing.
This recipe is a family favorite and comes together quickly after the chopping is done. While the veggies are roasting and pine nuts are toasting (hehe), the orzo is cooked and dressing is whipped up.
Serve with a Kale Caesar, crusty bread, and a bottle of red, Lemon Garlic Orzo with Roasted Vegetables makes a memorable meal. Dinner is served!
Oh, my birthday is next week and I’ve got something special comin… one of my favorite things ever! I can’t wait to share it with you!
Lemon Garlic Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
For the Orzo and Veggies:
- 1/3 C Pine Nuts 64g
- 1 1/2 C Crimini Mushrooms destemmed and sliced, 116g
- 1 C A Mix of Red Yellow, or Orange Bell Peppers, deseeded and diced (I used baby bells), 126g
- 1 lb Asparagus cut into 1" pieces with woody ends discarded, 426g
- 12 oz Cherry Tomatoes cut in 1/2, 340g
- 2 tsp Garlic minced (I used green garlic), 6g
- 1/2 C Shallot chopped, 116g
- 3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil divided, 36g
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper Ground
- 1 C Orzo 198g
- 1 1/2 C Vegetable Broth 354g
- 1/2 C Garlic and Herb Feta crumbled (Leave off for Vegan Option), 84g
For the Dressing:
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil 24g
- 1 Tbs Lemon juiced, about 2
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper ground
For the Garnish:
- 2-3 Tbs Chopped Fresh Basil
- 2-3 Tbs Chopped Fresh Parsley
Toast the Pine Nuts:
- Preheat Oven to 350F (177C) and toast pine nuts for 6-7 minutes, or until toasty and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Roast the Veggies:
- Turn oven up to 425F (218C). Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the mushrooms, bell peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, garlic and shallot on one pan. Sprinkle with 2 Tbs of olive oil. Using a spatula, mix all the veggies together with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then stir again. Move 1/2 the veggie mixture to the other sheet pan. Spread the veggies in one layer, making sure there's no overlapping on both pans. Roast in 425F oven for 35-40 minutes (due to oven variations, start checking your veggies at 25 minutes; a bit of charring is good!). Rotate pans 1/2 way through roasting. A bit of charring is okay.
Cook the Orzo:
- In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbs of Olive Oil on medium heat until shimmering. Add the orzo and stir, coating the orzo throughly. Stir occasionally for about 3 minutes or until the orzo is toasty and golden. Add the vegetable broth. Be careful here because the broth will spit and sputter. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
Make the Dressing:
- In a small bowl add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk until all the ingredients are emulsified.
Putting it all Together:
- In the large saute pan, to the orzo, add the roasted veggies and all their juices, stir in the dressing, feta, and pine nuts. Garnish generously with basil and parsley. Serve immediately.
Recipe NotesFor cold service, place in a lidded container and chill for at least an hour. Let set at room temperature for 15 minutes, to soften the olive oil, stir and serve.
Inspired By Ina Garten's Orzo with Roasted Vegetables.
Thank you for reading! If you make this recipe, be sure to post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter notify me @vanillaandbean and tag #vanillaandbean! I’d love to see what you’ve made! Follow me on Pinterest, too, for even more deliciousness!