Ham and Vegetable Orzo with Parmesan Cream Sauce
Prep Time: 20-30 Minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes
This is a great example of two things: (1) Flexibility in cooking, and (2) Letting leftovers drive your next meal. Cream-based sauces are nice because you can control the thickness of your sauce/sauté relatively easily. Orzo is nice because it’s that often-forgotten rice-ish pasta shape that never overpowers yet still plays Italian. This dish is easy because you can really throw in whatever vegetables you want along with your leftover ham or chicken, spice it how you want, and eventually arrive at the perfect balance of flavors to fit your mood that night. You can go through the same process the next night and arrive at a totally different mix of flavor and texture.
Orzo (4-6 oz dry)
Cream (can substitute half-and-half, whole milk, or even 2%)
1. Chop all vegetables. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan/wok/etc.
2. Sauté the onions and squash. Flavor with garlic and juice of a lemon if desired.
3. Add the chopped-up ham (or chicken or other meat) to the pan. Add the peas and chopped tomato.
4. Begin to cook the orzo. If you are using chicken as your meat, you can cook the orzo in chicken stock. Otherwise, just use water.
5. When the vegetables/ham are mostly cooked, begin to slowly add cream/milk to the pan. Stir to mix together. Add some fresh ground black pepper and/or parmesan cheese here to flavor.
6. Bring the mixture to a good heat where the cream begins to bubble/simmer. You can control the thickness of this sauce by adding less or more cream and by turning up the heat to simmer some of the liquid out.
7. When the orzo is done, drain it and add it to the sauce/sauté mixture. Keep on low until it is all evenly mixed and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
8. Serve with fresh basil leaf and parmesan cheese on top. To drink? A nice glass of milk, perhaps.
Remember, this recipe is flexible. Add whatever vegetables you want, add more tomato if in a red sauce mood, flavor with chopped basil if feeling pestoey. Up to you, no rules in the kitchen!