Orzo with Spinach and Parmesan
So my quest to learn to cook started a little over two years ago when my boyfriend and I started dating. The abbreviated version of how we became a couple is this: we met in graduate school and had become relatively good friends – fast forward to December 2009, when I was in Tuscany on a business trip and Bart may or may not have had too much to drink and decided to hop on a plane (booking a mere 6 hours before take-off) to come to Italy for a visit. On the day he arrived, I had planned to spend the afternoon in Milan so we decided to meet up for lunch near the Duomo – he was driving from Zurich and heading to Florence, so Milan was sort of the half-way point. We had lunch, played tourist for a bit, then were ready to part ways as it was starting to snow. Since Bart was staying at a hotel alone in Florence, I offered for him to stay with me – please note that I was staying alone in one of my company’s homes, so it was a 7,000 sq ft Villa and obviously had plenty of bedrooms – Bart accepted my offer and also decided to leave his rental car in Milan and hitch a ride with me back down to the Tuscan countryside. Our drive should have taken about four hours, but ended up taking closer to 11 hours because we were driving in what was later referred to as ‘the worst snow storm Italy has seen in 40 years’. Awesome. The Villa is located in a private game reserve with dirt hills leading back three miles to the house; poor Bart had the pleasure of pushing our car up those three miles of snow-covered hills. So after a long night of bonding in the car, we then found ourselves snowed into said Villa for the following three days – I guess you could say that is when we started dating. I wasn’t exactly prepared to be stuck in the house, or to be dining in, so we had no food. Only wine. The Concierge for the development was nice enough to give me some pasta and tomato sauce to last us for a few days, but it turns out that neither of us (Bart or I) have ever actually made/heated pasta. True story. The box was written in Italian, which neither of us speak, so we couldn’t read the directions. Needless to say, we managed to screw up pasta. From a box.
What does that have to do with my quest to learn to cook? Well, my birthday was a month later and Bart bought us both cooking lessons as a gift – a few basic classes, and then one Italian class because it was so fitting. I swore that I would practice my newfound skills, but I really only sampled making pastas. From boxes. Although I do make a killer gnocchi from scratch. Anyway, we may or may not have OD’d on orzo at the time, but I think enough time has passed so I broke this recipe out. It takes less than 15 minutes to make from beginning to end and is quite tasty – while I haven’t tried it, you could very easily add a protein to make it a little heartier. I forgot how much I love orzo….and cheese, but I did remember how much I love cheese (because who forgets that?) – aaaand, it re-heats well, another thing I love.
- In a large sauce pan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil.
- Add 1 tsp salt and the orzo to the boiling water.
- Boil until the orzo is tender and has absorbed all of the water; approximately 8 to 9 minutes.
- Begin stirring in the spinach, then add the olive oil, parmesan, and pepper. I use a truffle olive oil for extra taste, but tend to use a bit less than the 2 tbsp so it isn’t quite so heavy.
- Cook over low heat for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted; adjust seasoning.
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This recipe is a modified version of the recipe by the same name found on Food.com.