Orzo I Thought

Sometimes I make changes to recipes based on what I have in the pantry.  Other times, a recipe helps me use up odds and ends I’m already trying to get rid of. I had lots of fun changing this one up based on my pantry AND fading ingredients.  It’s from that same All You September 19, 2014 issue (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of that one).

Orzo Salad with Artichokes and Sausage

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/orzo-salad-artichokes-sausage

Ingredients

2 9-oz. boxes frozen artichokes, thawed and patted dry
Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces smoked sausages, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pound orzo
1/2 cup pesto
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss artichokes with 2 Tbsp. oil, sprinkle with salt; roast 15 minutes. Stir in sausages and tomatoes; roast until heated through, about 15 minutes longer.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook orzo until tender, about 9 minutes. Drain; toss with pesto in a large bowl.

3. Toss artichoke mixture with orzo and Parmesan. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve.

I cut this recipe in half, as it serves 6.  I chose a ceramic 9 x 13 baking dish for my cooking vessel. Since I had a giant open bottle of artichokes taking up a ton of space in the fridge (thank you, Costco) just 2 ounces over the recipe amount, I went ahead and used them all.  My grape tomatoes were getting too wrinkly to use in salad, so I threw those in with the smoked sausages.  Using jarred artichokes made it sensible to I roast everything together in step one, about 25 minutes total.

I made this with Client in mind, and already had 2 pasta dishes planned for the week, so I switched the orzo for couscous for a little variety.  The only pesto in the house was pea shoot or arugula, and I felt like both of them would fight with the artichokes ( they were also each frozen solid in giant gallon bags). I opted to make a balsamic vinaigrette instead (equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to total a 1/4 cup).

20151208_183354

Verdict: I loved the flavor of the roasted tomatoes against the salty artichokes.  The couscous was delicate and the smoked sausage (I used one with cheese inside!) was decadent.  This is hearty enough for a meal or a smaller portion could serve as an appetizer or side dish.  I’d make it again, maybe with roasted peppers or red onions to change up the flavors, and more cheese (because, CHEESE!).

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