One of the things I still struggle with in my meal planning is side dishes. Sigh. I often get so excited/fixated on the main dish that when it’s time to set the table, I think “Oh, shoot. What should I serve with this?” In these situations, my go-to solutions are fresh fruit, good crusty bread, or a simple chopped salad, which, don’t get me wrong, are delicious. Just a little on the drab side. So whenever we work on a fancy dinner, I try to step things up a notch.
I made Michael a steak dinner a while back, and we made this tasty orzo to go with it.
I would like to preface the recipe by saying that Michael is NOT a zucchini guy AT ALL. He loved this orzo and loved the leftovers. I find that grating zucchini and mixing it with rice or orzo like this is a great way to add a little color and a healthy dose of veggies, and the texture blends right in with the cooked orzo.
The roasted red pepper lends a great subtle sweetness to the dish and the basil and parmesan tie everything all together. A small drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper were the perfect finish to let all the other ingredients shine.
We served ours with a grilled citrus-balsamic steak, but it would also pair nicely with fish or chicken. You could also upgrade it to a main dish by stirring in some white beans, or cooked chicken (or both!). For the leftovers, we had some roasted baby tomatoes that we stirred in and they were delicious. Feel free to customize the recipe to your tastes and enjoy!
- 1½c orzo (uncooked)
- 1 small zucchini, grated (I left the peel on)
- 1 roasted red pepper, diced
- ¼c freshly grated parmesan (or more, to taste)
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Cook orzo according to package directions. During the last minute of cooking, add grated zucchini.
- Drain orzo and zucchini in a fine mesh sieve. Return to pot and add roasted pepper, parmesan, and basil. Stir in a small drizzle of olive oil to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.