Oh blog, how I have neglected you! To make up for lost time, here is a delicious recipe for orzo. This is a Greek-inspired tomato and cinnamon orzo that will seriously change your world. I eat this every time I go to my favorite Greek restaurant here in DC, Cava down at Eastern Market, and I have been trying to replicate the delicious tomato-ey cinnamon goodness for a few weeks. And this is my masterpiece, created with some empty-pantry substitutions and starting from this recipe on a vegan remake website.
Wish-I-Were-Greek Tomato Orzo:
One medium onion
One can diced tomatoes, no salt added
Water to increase liquid up to 3 1/2 cups
One cup of orzo pasta
Three cloves fresh garlic
Olive Oil to coat pan, plus an additional heavy drizzle
A palm-ful of salt
Black pepper to taste
An overflowing 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
2 overflowing Tbsp. of organic tomato paste
A heavy sprinkling of cocoa — probably at least 1/2 Tbsp.
A light sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes
Crumbled feta cheese, for topping
To cook the orzo:
Chop the onion pretty small and saute on medium heat in deep nonstick skillet for 5 minutes in olive oil. Add in chopped garlic to soften for the last minute of cooking.
Meanwhile, drain the tomato liquids into your large liquid measuring cup. Then, fill with water up to 3 1/2 cups. Heat this liquid separately so it can go into the skillet hot.
Add the orzo to the skillet, and heavily drizzle with olive oil. After about one minute, when the orzo looks golden but not brown, add in the liquid, cinnamon, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste. Give the mixture a good stir and lower the heat to a simmer.
The orzo should cook, in total, for about 15-20 minutes. Do not cover your pan at any point in this process. Try to keep stirring to a good mix every three or four minutes — too much stirring can affect the consistency of the orzo. After about ten minutes, I add in the salt and pepper (add more or less to taste). When most of the liquid is absorbed, turn off the heat and add in the cocoa and the red pepper flakes. Give a good stir and let sit for a few minutes while you prep your bowls/plates.
Serve topped with crumbled (salty and delicious) feta cheese. Delicious on its own or as a side to grilled meats or shrimp. This makes a pretty big batch — four full servings or six to eight side dish servings.