Mother Nature has been going through some severe mood swings over the past several weeks here in Georgia. Seventy degree and sunny days are interspersed with ice, snow and thick cloud cover. This pendulum of extreme weather leaves me scratching my head each morning as I contemplate my wardrobe for the day. Boots or flip flops? An even more pressing decision, is what’s for dinner? One day I am snuggled up by the fire enjoying a hearty beef stew. The next day, there’s the overwhelming urge to sit on the deck and fire up the grill. What’s a girl to do when faced with such extremes in wardrobe and dining? As far as the wardrobe goes, dress in layers and always keep a spare pair of flip flops handy. As for dressing your plate, perhaps a more subtle approach is necessary.
As a cook, I rely heavily on the seasonality of ingredients. I would never serve a pot roast with root vegetables in June, just as I would not serve grilled corn on the cob in December. Cooking during the recent extreme weather has been a bit of a challenge. This past weekend, the temperature said “spring”, but alas, it is still February. So, as we creep into spring, I thought about food that was still hearty enough for winter, yet hinted at the freshness of spring. My recipe for this week is a whole wheat orzo dish that can be served warm or cold as a salad. It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, and uses pantry ingredients, along with readily available fresh basil and lemon.
I hope this recipe will help you bridge the gap between winter and spring, as well as putting something on your plate that you can be passionate about. Enjoy!
Any Weather Orzo:
1 16 oz package whole wheat orzo
1 15.5 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup basil leaves, julienned
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add garbanzos and peas to the bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice, zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and pour over the orzo mixture. Gently stir orzo mixture to combine and evenly coat the pasta in dressing.
Place orzo onto a large serving platter and sprinkle with feta and basil. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.