On my first visit to my (new) farmers’ market in Florida, I was pleased to find some beautiful locally-grown produce that made me happy to be newly transplanted to the sunshine state. There were zucchini, lemons, shallots and onions, among other great-looking just-picked vegetables. There were also pots of fresh herbs, so naturally, I bought a pot of basil to keep on my terrace for the winter. I bought whatever looked good without a plan in mind for the meals to come.
When invited to a friend’s house for lunch, I decided to make orzo, which is a great blank canvas which can take a variety of preparations. It’s quick and holds well at room temperature. With some sauteed zucchini, it was a natural side dish for whatever was being served for lunch.
The zucchini were fresh and sweet, and along with some sauteed shallots, made a wonderful addition to the orzo. Lemon zest and juice added a bright note, along with a handful of chopped basil. To add some saltiness and crunch, chopped almonds were the perfect addition. Just prior to serving, I added a liberal sprinkle of fruity raw extra-virgin olive oil and black pepper.
Orzo with Zucchini, Almonds and Lemon
serves 6 with leftovers
1 lb orzo
4 medium zucchini (about 8″ long)
2 large shallots
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tbls freshly chopped basil leaves
1/3 c salted roasted almonds
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Boil orzo in a pot of well-salted water.
While orzo cooks, in a broad skillet on high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the shallots and zucchini. Saute until zucchini begin to turn golden, tossing often. Add salt and pepper.
Chop almonds coarsely and set aside.
When orzo is cooked, drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. In a mixing bowl, toss remaining ingredients together and taste for salt and pepper. Just prior to serving, drizzle on the remainder of olive oil.