Side Dish #4 Orzo with Roasted Red Pepper, Basil and Lemon

I discovered orzo, which is a small oval shaped pasta, a few years ago and fell in love with it. Once it’s cooked, it almost has a creamy texture. I ate a version of this dish at a restaurant a few years ago and came home determined to recreate it. This isn’t an exact replica, but it’s very tasty.

Notes: When I initially made this dish and recorded it, I didn’t add the lemon. But this dish needs it. Juice from half a lemon is just enough to take this dish to the next level. Next, fresh basil is amazing. It tastes nothing like it’s dried counterpart.

Servings: 4 medium size sides

Cost per Serving: $1.56

4 cups water
1 ½ cups orzo
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil
2 roasted red/yellow/orange peppers (fresh or in the jar), thinly sliced
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the orzo and salt and stir.
  3. Cook uncovered 8-9 minutes, until the orzo is soft and has absorbed most of the water.
  4. While the orzo is cooking, add the oil, basil and peppers to a food processor blender and blend until the basil is chopped and everything is combined.
  5. Drain the pasta and pour the basil-pepper mixture over it.
  6. Add the lemon juice.
  7. Stir to combine and serve.

Roasting Fresh Bell Peppers

  1. Cut them in half and remove the stems and seeds.
  2. Set the oven rack in the oven as high as it can possibly go. You will want your baking sheet directly under the broilers.
  3. Turn the oven on at "broil." If you have the option, choose low broil.
  4. Slit the halved red peppers a few times at both ends so that they will lay fairly flat.
  5. Lay the slit pepper halves out on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast the peppers.
  6. Watch the peppers closely. This process takes about 8 minutes.
  7. When the skins are blackened and charred pretty evenly, they are done. It's okay if the skins still have some red places, as long as they are mostly charred.
  8. Place the completely blackened bell pepper into a paper bag, close the bag and let the peppers steam for at least 20 minutes.
  9. Once the peppers have steamed in the paper bag for at least 20 minutes, rub the skin off and slice them.

This is #4 of 7 Side Dishes that Just Might Steal the Show