Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lemon Spinach Orzo

When the summer heat finally rolls around in New England, as it has this week, I go to all means necessary to avoid oven usage.  With no central air, our little window AC units just can't keep up with the heat from outside and the oven, so whether it's grilled pizzas, thick-cut pork chops, shrimp skewers, herb butter-rubbed chicken thighs, fish in foil packets, etc, we tend to center our meal plans around the grill. Now, the grill is my husband's territory, so I like to find quick and simple stove-top recipes that I can whip up in the kitchen while he mans the flames, cold beer in hand. This Lemon Spinach Orzo fit the bill when we were grilling pork chops, and it would be great topped with grilled shrimp or served alongside a beautiful steak
(recipe based on Life as a Strawberry's Parmesan and Spinach Orzo)

1 cup orzo
2 Tb butter
~1/8 tsp onion powder 
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tb flour
1 cup milk (I used whole)
1 bag of pre-washed spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (plus extra for garnish)
1/4 cup Comte cheese, shredded
1/2 lemon, juiced
(I also think a little lemon zest would be a great add-in to further brighten up the dish)

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a bowl tossed with some olive oil (to prevent sticking).

Heat a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Add butter, and once hot, add garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add flour to form a roux and cook for an additional minute, whisking continually (to ensure that your roux doesn't have the taste of raw flour).

Add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the pot, whisking to work out any lumps. Gradually add the remaining milk, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce has thickened, about 8-10 minutes.

Add spinach to the sauce gradually (giving each addition a chance to wilt down before adding more), and cook an additional two minutes or until all of the spinach is wilted down.

Gradually add the parmesan and comte cheese into sauce, stirring to combine. When cheese has melted, add cooked orzo and lemon juice to the sauce, and toss to coat. 

Garnish with extra parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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