Yes, it’s October. Of course it’s still close to or exactly 100 degrees. Summer lingers a tad bit longer here. To celebrate the transition, I put together a blend of autumn and summer. The meatballs from last week were a first flush of cooler weather; combined some freshly made summer tomato sauce and a last batch of summer veggies, this dinner or lunch brings lots of flavor to the table.
As I was cooking up the recipe in my head, I thought back to summer orzo salads we often had growing up: grilled veggies, with orzo and olive oil. Salt. Pepper. A sprinkle of feta and herbs. Simplicity for the season. While this dish adds a tad more complexity, all the veggies keep it light.
Orzo and Meatballs
- 1/2 batch of the Turkey Meatballs, already cooked
- 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup fresh summer tomato sauce
- 1/2 large red onion
- 2 small zucchini, diced
- 2 ears of corn, removed from cob
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
- Estimated 1/2 cup of parsley, chopped
- Olive oil
- 1/2 pound of orzo, or other small pasta.
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large saute pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Dice the 1/2 large red onion, add to the pan when complete. Sprinkle the onions with a 1/4 teaspoon salt. Allow the onion to cook until slightly caramelized, at least 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure to stir the onion a few times (3 or 4 or more) so that it doesn’t burn. Once the onion has softened and started to caramelize, add the corn, zucchini, and peas. Add freshly ground pepper, to taste (roughly 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon). Allow the vegetables to cook, until mostly soft. Add the precooked meatballs and set over low heat.
In a large stock pot filled almost to the brim, add a generous amount of salt and bring the water to a boil. Cook orzo pasta according to the directions on the package. I recommend testing the pasta at least 2 minutes before the package says it will be done. You’ll be cooking the pasta briefly with the veggies and the tomato sauce, so a little underdone is better than overdone here. The pasta should still have some chewiness to it. Drain said pasta and add to the sauce pan.
Turn the head on the sauce pan up. Stir in the tomato sauce, allowing it to coat all of the vegetables and pasta. If you prefer more sauce, add it now. The sauce should lightly cover the pasta, but not completely cover it. We’re not trying to re-create spaghetti and marina sauce, rather give this orzo dish an additional boost of flavor.
Taste test of salt, pepper, or other spices that might be missing. Add in the freshly chopped parsley. Serve in a bowl with a big spoon or fork.