Orzo With Artichokes, Cherry Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
- Servings: 4 as a side dish.
Orzo is a frequent ingredient in Greek and other Mediterranean cuisines. It's a small rice-shaped pasta, somtimes also called riso, that is quick to cook and mixes well with other ingredients that are cut into small pieces so that you get a taste of everything in one bite.
In this pasta side dish, artichokes, fresh cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts combine with the orzo to make a tangy combination that can be served either warm or at room temperature. It partners wonderfully with roasted lamb or chicken, or fish, and it packs easily to be carried to work for lunch or a summer picnic.
In this recipe we use canned artichokes -- not the oil-packed marinated ones but those that come in a can. These are not only nearly labor-free to use but also are cooked, saving both steps of trimming and cooking fresh artichokes -- and with no sacrifice in flavor.
Serves 4 as a side dish but can be easily doubled.
- 1 1/2 cups orzo
- 4 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 14-oz. can whole artichoke hearts
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeeze lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil and cook the orzo until al dente. Be careful to not overcook the orzo because it can easily become mushy. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.
- In a small skillet without any added fat, lightly toast the pine nuts until golden brown. Watch them closely because these high-fat nuts can quickly go from lightly toasted to burned. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Drain the artichoke hearts, rinse with cool water, and let completely drain. Use a paper towel to squeeze out any remaining moisture. Working gently, one heart at a time, pull the leaves from each heart and then cut each remaining bottom into thirds.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves.
- In a large serving bowl combine the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and stir until the salt dissolves. Add the olive oil and continue to stir until emulsified.
- To the bowl add the orzo, pine nuts, artichoke leaves and bottoms, and lemon zest and gently toss to combine.
- Either serve immediately. Or, if you need to serve at a later time, combine the dressing in one bowl and the other ingredients in another and then toss just before serving to avoid the dish from becoming soggy.