by Kelly Davis
Well, we've skipped right over spring and went straight to summer. For you creative cooks and enthusiastic eaters, you're going to be seeking out fresh-tasting, cool meals that won't weigh you down. You're done with thick hearty stews and comfort foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes - for now, anyway.
So, let me introduce you to my lemon and basil orzo dish with goat cheese and pine nuts. The fresh taste of lemon and basil paired with creamy rich goat cheese is a flavor combination that won't let you down. I like to serve this pasta slightly chilled like a pasta salad. Use it as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish or make it your main dish with a side salad. It's a spring-time pasta dish that goes with just about anything.
LEMON & BASIL ORZO WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PINE NUTS
4 cups salted water
2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup dry roasted pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Bring well-salted water to a boil in a large pot and add orzo, cooking according to package directions. Cook until orzo is slightly al dente. Drain pasta reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
Place pasta in a large serving or mixing bowl. Add reserved pasta water, lemon zest, juice, and olive oil. Stir well to combine.
Add basil, goat cheese, pine nuts, salt, and pepper and stir well to combine. Set in the refrigerator to chill for an hour before serving.
Pasta that is al dente is not completely soft when tasted. To make sure your pasta is al dente, check the pasta two minutes before the package indicates it should be ready. Taste a piece or two of the orzo and determine if it is to your liking. Continue to cook if desired. Do not overcook the pasta, else the orzo will be too sticky and clump together.
The cheapest I've found pine nuts is $7.99 for an 8 oz. bag at Trader Joe's. If that's too expensive for your taste, try walnut pieces (English walnuts, not black walnuts) or slivered almonds.
Kelly Davis is a blogger, freelance writer, food enthusiast, and native North Carolinian. When she's not training for a race or cooking something delicious in the kitchen, she's writing, reading, snuggling her dachshund, or plotting her next project. You can keep up with Kelly's antics and recipes on her blog, Foodie Fresh.