Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bleu Cheese Asparagus Orzotto

I'm just going to answer the question now... orzotto is not a word. Mark Bittman made it up and I thought it was clever. One of the great things about cooking is that you can mess around in the kitchen and no one can tell you you're doing it wrong. You're your toughest critic really. And how refreshing in a world of client critique and performance reviews. I'll take it.

...and back to the subject. The mind wanders. What I mean about this recipe is that it's treating one ingredient different than the package calls for, but yields great results. In this case, I treated Orzo pasta just like risotto. It goes against all the rules of pasta, because you don't boil it and it goes against all the rules of risotto because it isn't arborio rice. But you know what? It totally works. Look at you, such a rebel!

The key takeaway here is the technique, which creates a flavor packed pasta dish in 15 minutes. Way more tasty than ordinary noodles. I've put it together with some springy favorites, but the flavor combinations are near endless. 

Bleu Cheese Asparagus Orzotto
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch chives, minced
1lb orzo pasta
1 bunch asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2lb shrimp, deveined and tails removed
4oz bleu cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Start by bringing chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan. In a separate heavy bottomed pot, melt butter and olive oil together. Once foamy, add chives and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add orzo to buttery pot and stir until toasted, about a minute. Add a ladle of warm chicken stock and stir until orzo soaks up liquid. Continue adding chicken stock one ladleful at time until orzo absorbs all liquid and is tender. 

While the orzo cooks, blanche asparagus in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and shock in an ice bath. 

When the pasta is nearly cooked, add shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes or until pink. At the last minute, stir in bleu cheese and asparagus. Top with chopped walnuts and a few fresh chives. Enjoy!

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