Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mustard Greens and Pomegranate Salad with Fresh Orange Juice Dressing

Fresh leaf lettuce salad is a food that I’ve never had until I moved to the United States. Back in the Philippines, my family hardly ate any raw vegetables… my Mom worried about bacteria and pesticides. There’s a lot of fresh fruit in the Philippines though and this makes up for not eating fresh leaf lettuce salads.  

When I was living with Sally, salads were almost always present during dinner. She made the most amazing salads and my favorites are the ones tossed with some fruit: apples, pears, watermelons, cantaloupes, pineapples, pomegranates, and so on. All the combinations just worked in the magical way that Sally tosses everything together.  

It’s been a long while since I had a good salad and I’ve been craving it for days. The last time I made salad was during the dwindling days of summer. As soon as work was over last Friday afternoon, I started thinking about having a salad. Sally makes fresh leaf lettuce salads with pomegranate during the winter. So, I definitely wanted some in mine too. At the grocery store, I hunted for salad ingredients, found everything I needed and more. Unfortunately, I had to settle for leftovers that night because there was plenty. On Saturday, I cooked a big batch of Three Cheese Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts and Fig-Cran-Apple Sauce, had a prom sign-in task, and a friend’s engagement party. Feeling overbooked, I didn’t get the chance to formulate the salad in my little head. This combination came together in my mind before falling asleep and it was all I could think of all throughout Sunday morning, during my yoga class at noon, and could hardly wait to get home and make it for lunch.

To put an end to my rambling, the point is, mulling over a recipe for days works because this turned out wonderful. Thanks to all the time spent thinking about it and the Sally inspiration. There’s a lovely blend of different flavors and textures in this beautiful salad: crisp mustard greens; juicy, melt-in-your-mouth pomegranate seeds; salty pistachio crunches; soft mozzarella pieces; and sweet orange juice dews on the bitter-spicy leaves.    

Mustard Greens and Pomegranate Salad with Fresh Orange Juice Dressing
(Makes two servings)
I recommend assembling this salad in individual bowls rather than a big one. This is a basic recipe and it’s okay to roll your eyes at my having to give instructions on how to make it. I’m a teacher, giving directions has become a habit. ;) 

about 5 leaves mustard greens, torn
about 5 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, or more if you like
handful of roasted and salted pistachios, chopped
fresh mozzarella, torn or shredded
freshly squeezed juice of one orange

Wash and dry the mustard green leaves. Tear into bite size pieces and divide between two bowls.

Cut the pomegranate in half and scoop out three tablespoons of seeds. Scatter seeds over the leaves between the bowls.

Shell the pistachios and roughly chop. Sprinkle over the leaves in both bowls.

Pinch off a handful of fresh mozzarella and tear into small pieces. Again, sprinkle over both bowls.

Cut an orange in half and squeeze the juice out of each half into a bowl, using a lemon squeezer. If you don’t have a squeezer, make sure to catch the seeds with a strainer or a fork.


Enjoy this fresh, wholesome goodness!   

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Three Cheese Rigatoni with Brussel Sprouts and Fig-Cran-Apple Sauce

Hello, hello everyone! Happy Food Matters Project Monday! This week’s fabulous recipe, Baked Rigatoni, Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese, was picked by Marcia of Twenty by Sixty. Visit her website for the full recipe.  

When I first glanced at the recipe ingredients, my thoughts were, “Shoot, I just used up all my figs for the newtons that I made last weekend.” I pretty much had everything else but the rigatoni and Brussels sprouts. But then I read on and realized that I can substitute the figs for apples, pears, or cranberries. This is why I like Mark Bittman’s recipes, there’s always room for creativity and he encourages playing with ingredients and flavors.

Believe it or not, I still have leftover fig newton filling that happens to have: dried figs, dried cranberries, and apple juice. Trifecta! (Ewww… did I just use that word?) Anyhoo, this fig newton filling lasted forever and I have enjoyed it in homemade fig newtons, jam for toast and sandwiches, and sweetener for quinoa cereal. Use it as a sauce for this baked rigatoni and brussel sprouts dish, why not? 

Since I used a whole pound of rigatoni, I decided to add more cheese and chop up some apples. There wasn’t enough blue cheese and besides too much of it is overwhelming. So, I grated fresh mozzarella and Pecorino Romano. The combination of pungent, lightly salty, and very salty cheeses was wonderful.    

This dish is full of very interesting flavors… the sweetness of the fig-cran-apple sauce and the apple pieces stave off the slight bitterness of the Brussels sprouts, the three cheeses add a luscious blend of creamy saltiness, and the almond garnish gives a nice crunch to every bite. 

Here’s a quick glance of the ingredients that I used:

1 lb rigatoni
1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts, chopped
2 small apples, chopped
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup mozzarella, freshly grated
¼ cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of fig-cranberry-apple juice sauce (this was the filling leftover from the Jenna Weber fig newtons that I made)
As mentioned above, Marcia has the original recipe and directions posted on her website. The other members of The Food Matter’s Project always have the most interesting creations and personal touches to every dish, so check out their takes on this one.  

Do give this dish a try… you will be surprised! It is almost reminiscent of mac and cheese, with a touch of class and sweetness. Trust me!

Sunday Morning Productivity

Every morning, I wake up hungry and thinking of what to eat. When I got out of bed this morning, I checked some of my favorite food blogs to see what they have to offer... this quinoa“cereal” with caramelized bananas greeted me. There’s more quinoa than we need in the pantry and Gina’s cereal suggestion was definitely the way to go.

Yes, my friends, quinoa can be turned into oatmeal and it is just as good.

Inspired by Gina, I made some quinoa oatmeal and it is beyond delicious. You can do anything you fancy with your oatmeal… be creative!

Play with the amounts of quinoa and milk that you use according to the consistency you want your oatmeal to have... I had a couple of things that needed to be used up because I don't want them to go bad, so I just made do with what I had on hand:

yellow quinoa
vanilla soymilk
leftover fig newton filling (check this link for the recipe)
almond butter
agave nectar
sunflower seeds, roasted (Sorry, can’t give instructions here because I just threw two handfuls in a pan and popped it in the oven after baking scones this morning. After a while, I remembered I was roasting sunflower seeds and took the pan out. They roasted perfectly, thank goodness! But I can’t account for the time.)

Then, made it up as I went:

I boiled a cup of yellow quinoa with two cups of water for 30 minutes, simmering the quinoa during the last 15 minutes. I slowly heated up about two cups of vanilla soymilk and dumped spoonfuls of cooked quinoa.

As this was heating up, I sliced a banana and cooked it in a small pan heated with a teensy bit of butter… dotted the banana slices with droplets of blueberry agave to sweeten it and cooked it for a few minutes until it softened. When this was done, I added it into the quinoa pot.

To give the quinoa oatmeal some flavor, I added about three spoonfuls of the leftover fig newton filling and a heaping tablespoon of almond butter for a thicker texture.

Served it in small bowls and sprinkled the top with roasted sunflower seeds.

Perfect way to start a Sunday morning!

While the quinoa was cooking, I quickly made some Alice Water scones…

This time, I went with my all-time favorite variation, cranberry scones with orange zest. I had some leftover sugar sprinkle topping from a mocha cake I made a while back and used it all up to cover the scones. It doesn’t look very pretty, but it’s pretty darn good!

Looking forward to some bread baking this afternoon for our week’s supply. But for now, it’s time for a little bit of running and yoga.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

For the past three weeks, I have rekindled my love affair with bread baking and plan on keeping this going until I get bored with it. Fingers crossed that won’t be any time soon, because homemade bread is so clean… no added sugars and gross preservatives.  

We were out of bread last weekend and needed some to make lunch sandwiches for our hiking trip. I just wanted simple bread that would be perfect with deli meat and veggies, or almond butter and jam. This Basic Whole-Wheat Bread from my Paul Hollywood book was exactly what I was looking for… healthy, delicious, and filling. Another plus to this bread is it is so easy to make and doesn’t need a million hours to knead, rise, punch, knead, rise again, shape, rest, then finally bake. Because it only requires one rising, some shaping, and voila, ready to go in the oven!

Basic Whole-Wheat Bread (Makes 1 loaf)
Adapted from 100 Great Breads, Paul Hollywood

2/3 cup white bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting
scant 2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 ½ tsp salt
7 tsp yeast
½ stick butter, softened
1 ½ cups water, warm (turn the hot water on until it feels too hot on your arm)  

In a large mixing bowl, put the bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast together. Mix well using a whisk.
Add the softened butter into the dry mixture. Using a hand mixer, mix on medium speed, until the butter has spread out evenly in the flour mixture and the texture becomes sandy and silky.

Slowly pour the water into the bowl and using a thin spatula, mix until all the flour has incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. The dough will become harder to mix.

Tip the bowl and slowly roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it is smooth and pliable. Coat the dough with a tad of butter and gently move it back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with a tad of butter. Move the dough onto the greased baking sheet and shape the dough into a rectangular loaf with rounded edges or a boule. Cut a cross shape down the middle on the top of the loaf with a knife. Dust the top of the loaf for a rustic look. Bake for 30 minutes.

Great for deli sandwiches or as toast. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Indian Chili

A long time ago, I used to think that all Indian food is just curry and dough balls cooked in oil. Seriously! Looking back, that might have been from an early childhood memory of a going to an elementary school friend’s birthday party, whose family was originally from India. Sometimes, kids can be picky eaters and I was one of those. I wasn’t picky at home because my mom would have none of that. Eat what’s on the table was the rule. My mom is a very good cook and I knew then that her food was better than everyone else’s moms, so I only liked what she made. Also, I was not big into trying different types of food when I was a kid. So, that birthday party made a lasting impression on Indian food for me.

A few years ago, I met Anne. I’m not quite sure where she is now, but at one time, we had something in common. We both lived in a beautiful piece of land somewhere in Washington State with cute dogs, alpacas, chickens (so many different breeds, cutest things ever), a horse, and cows, surrounded by apple, pear, and cherry orchards with a gorgeous view of the valley and the peaks of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. She lived in the guest house and I lived in the big house with my wonderful host parents. That was one of the most special times in my life that I will forever be grateful for.

Anne invited me over for dinner one time and she made chana masaledar. That was the turning point for my aversion to Indian food. What was I thinking all those years ago? Today, I love Indian food… every dish is so full of flavor with all the different spices and sauces.

Two weeks ago, I came home to soaked kidney beans, which was an indication that I probably should figure something out with them. So, I decided to make chili with what I believe to be a spice combination inspired from all the Indian recipes I read about or made in the past… Indian Chili is what I’m calling it.    

Indian Chili (Makes 4 servings)

1 cup dry kidney beans, soaked for at least 4 hours
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
½ inch cube ginger, chopped in about 4 small pieces and mashed

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves
half of a medium onion, diced (feel free to add more)
half of a large shallot, chopped (feel free to add more)
¾ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp salt
3 carrots, chopped
3 kale leaves, roughly chopped (feel free to add more)
half of a large bell pepper (feel free to add more)
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder, optional
1/8 tsp cardamom
4 whole cloves, crushed
salt (to taste)

Soak the beans for at least 4 hours in water. When ready to be cooked, drain the water.

Over medium heat, bring the chicken stock and water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add the beans and ginger. Stir, cover, and cook over medium heat for an hour to a little over an hour. Stir every now and then.

Meanwhile, get the other ingredients ready and start cooking these in a large pan. Heat oil in the pan and sauté the garlic until golden brown. Add the onions and shallots and stir until soft and almost translucent. Season with garam masala and salt.

Add the carrots and stir for about a minute. Add the kale and stir until it is slightly soft, but not wilted. Then add the bell peppers and stir for another minute. Pour in the diced tomatoes and stir for about 2 minutes. Season with the following spices: cayenne, paprika, and chili powder. Stir until everything is mixed together. Turn the stove off and move the pan away from the heat. Let the vegetables sit until the beans have cooked.

You will know they beans are cooked when they are just tender, about an hour or more. Taste to make sure. When beans are tender, add the cardamom and whole cloves. Stir. Move the vegetables into the sauce pan and stir everything together. Cook for another ten minutes or so. Season with salt to taste.  

Serve with some naan or this curry-raisin baguette.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut “Pesto”

Since I got my Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman, I couldn’t wait to start making the first recipe for the Food Matters Project. Everyone else on the team has already made two, so I’m a little late here.

This week, Heather of girlichef, chose the recipe… Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto. Click on her website for the original recipe. Thank you for this great pick, Heather!

Fresh Herb Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Pesto

I made a couple of modifications with my pesto. One of the modifications happened because I did not read the directions very well. According to the directions, the bell peppers should be roasted whole and then it's easier to skin them. Darn, I cut all eight peppers into strips. Ooops! When they’re cut in pieces, removing the skin is NOT an easy task, so I just decided to forget the skinning part and carried on. Making this pesto without skinning the roasted peppers worked out just fine though. Thank goodness! Also, walnuts already have natural oil in them, so I decided to use just ¼ cup of olive oil instead of ½ cup. Because I love garlic, I went with 4 cloves instead of the recommended 2 and it’s wonderful.  

After reading about all the pasta with pesto sauce recipes in various food blogs, I decided to do the same for this roasted red pepper and walnut pesto. I made fresh herb pasta from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. Usually, I love vegetables in my pasta but because I wanted to experience the full flavors of this pesto, I roasted vegetables instead and had them on the side. Roasted red pepper and walnut pesto is wonderful with pasta. Sprinkle the top with some freshly grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese and you have a wonderful dish, simple and rich at the same time, with nutty goodness, bright bites of garlic, and subtle hints of basil.

Fresh Herb Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto (makes 2 servings)
Adapted from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food

2 cups roasted red pepper and walnut pesto (visit girlichef for the recipe)

For the fresh herb pasta:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped
1 egg
1 egg yolk

Pecorino Romano, freshly grated

Pour the flour and herbs in a small mixing bowl. Using a whisk, mix together well.  

Beat the eggs in another small bowl. Pour the beaten eggs into the flour bowl and mix with a fork until all the flour is soaked. Eventually it will be too thick to mix and small clumps of flour will form. Get rid of the fork and continue mixing by hand.

Move the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water until it starts to come together. Shape the dough into a small ball and wrap it in plastic. Before you start rolling it out, let the dough rest for at least an hour (I was in a time crunch and only let it rest for about 10 minutes and it was fine).   

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough as thinly as possible. This is quite a challenging feat, but it is very important to keep it super thin. Fresh pasta will fatten up when cooked and the inside won’t cook as well if it’s too thick. So, again, roll the dough until it is flat and super-duper thin.

Cut the flattened dough however way you want to cut it. I cut it in linguini strips and then cut the long strips into thirds so they cook faster.  

Fill a medium sauce pan 2/3 full of water and add salt to taste. Bring the water to a rolling boil and add the pasta. Stir and cover the pan. Wait for it to boil again and uncover the pan. I’m not sure how long I cooked it for because it’s always longer than when the recipe says it should be done. So, just keep tasting it until you think it’s done the way you want it, tender or al dente. When it's done, drain the pasta (but save some of the water, you might want some in your sauce).  

Meanwhile, heat the roasted red pepper pesto in a large pan over medium low heat. When it is hot enough, add the cooked pasta. Mix until everything is well-combined. If you want a more liquidy sauce, add a couple tablespoons of the pasta water until it is to your desired consistency.

Serve immediately and sprinkle with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.

Some notes:

This pesto is pretty versatile and can be put in anything. Before I moved this pesto in a bowl, I started scraping the spoon off with crackers. Eating it just like that is perfect enough.

Then I used the pesto as a pizza sauce. Oh my, delicious! I used the pesto with fresh mozzarella cheese, blue cheese, pancetta, mushrooms, and onions. The pizza dough that I used was from this cookbook too. However, I didn't like it very much. The dough seemed to lack flavor, so if you have your own favorite pizza dough recipe, I would recommend that you stick with that. But again, aside from the not-so-great pizza dough, this pesto is wonderful as a pizza sauce.

Another night, I used this pesto as a base sauce for burritos. It was a great complement to all the other fillings.
Go ahead and make this pesto… you’ll love it! J

Beacon Rock + Hamilton Mtn. = Awesome

We did it! Woke up early, got out of the house, and drove for 3 hours to Skamania County. The “Welcome to Oregon” sign greeted us about 30 minutes into our drive. Then about an hour and a half later, we crossed a bridge from Hood River, Oregon back to Washington to get to Beacon Rock State Park. Weird.

Weather Underground lied. Mostly sunny??? It was foggy and cloudy, but I shouldn’t complain much because the rain stopped coming down as soon as we got to our destination.

Beacon Rock

Beacon Rock is a rock. A huge one, 848 feet. In 1915, Henry Biddle bought it for a buck. A BUCK, imagine that! And constructed a fabulous trail, complete with handrails and bridges, with a crazy number of switchbacks. I want to give Mr. Biddle a big thank you hug for doing this. It was an awesome hike up, with great views of the Columbia River. Wish we sat down and enjoyed the top for long enough, but DFJ and I wanted to do more hiking across the road to the Hamilton Mountain Summit. So, we just had time to enjoy the homemade fig newtons that I baked for this trip (I used Jenna Weber’s recipe) and moved on.

Crazy switchbacks!

fig newton snack break
the view from the top of Beacon Rock

I love hiking and I can hike for miles and miles. But, this week I was sick and didn’t get enough sleep every night. On Friday, I ran, lifted weights, and went to yoga rave for an hour and a half. It’s not that kind of rave. It was pretty cool actually, only women were there and we danced with glow sticks. The whole experience was so new and awkward, but after a while I got into it and felt liberated. Dancing and feeling the rhythm of the music without worrying that someone’s going to say I look crazy felt awesome! On Saturday, I went to my friend, Roslyn’s, dance class. Man, she had so much enthusiasm, you can’t help but feel it. Then some more yoga in the afternoon plus some fig newton and bread baking. So to make this already long story short, I was still semi-sick and my legs especially were already tired. However, I’m still proud to say that DFJ and I kept a pretty good pace, which means we had time to enjoy a nice lunch by the waterfalls and another fig newton snack break at the summit.

lunch by the waterfalls

This whole wheat bread that we used for our sandwiches was so good. I promise to share the recipe later this week.

Overall, we hiked for about 8 miles and encountered some mud, slush, snow, with minimal sunshine teasing us every now and then. The change of scenery from one part of the mountain to the next was very interesting and boy, was I glad I brought different layers. At one point, my face, hair, and gloves got wet because we put our faces right in front of the waterfall spray and gust in this gap between rocks. One of those I-feel-like-a-kid-again moments.

I can keep hiking up and up but going down is my worst enemy. There are some parts of the hike where I had to crawl down on my booty because I’m a scaredy-cat. DFJ is always there to catch me and that always makes downhill hiking bearable. On the way down, we decided to explore one of the false summits and got a great shoe picture which has become our tradition.

DFJ decided to do one more exploration and because he did it, I followed and thought I was going to die. How I managed to go down there and get back up with all of my fears, I still don’t know.

This was a fun day, away from the city, from work, from everyone else. Just DFJ and I, enjoying a great hike with the abounding beauty of nature around us.

Share your adventure memories with me. I would love to hear it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Bread and Fig Newtons for a Big Hiking Day

Spring is in the air! This week I saw two worms on the jogging path. That’s a sure sign for spring, right?

It’s President’s Day on Monday so I get the day off! DFJ and I are going to Beacon Rock along the Columbia River for a big hike today. The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and I cannot wait to go back. The weather report says it will be mostly sunny with a high of 45 degrees F. Should be pretty warm! Well, for winter at least. I am so excited! Hiking is one of my most favorite activities. Our last camping/hiking trip was September of last year at Wallowa Lake in Oregon and it feels like eons ago.  

Last summer, DFJ and I went on a spontaneous biking trip to The Dalles. As soon as we got to Memaloose State Park and pitched our tent, we went on a quick, early evening bike ride on the Mosier Twin Tunnels bike path. It was an awesome, super-smooth, paved path, with a gorgeous view of the gorge. The sun was sitting low in the sky and the air was starting to cool. Just perfect! There was no one else on the path except for a lizard that I ran over (cringing at the sad memory). Wind on my face, soft rays of sunlight warming my shoulders, the smell of cool, fresh air, breathtaking view of the Columbia Gorge, and the special moment shared with DFJ was pure heaven. I have never felt so free and happy.

On the way back to the car, during the last mile of our ride, I fell off my bike and somehow managed to stab my tricep with my bike’s brake lever. Freak accident. I had to be brave and bike back to the car with a hurt arm. A not-so-quick trip to Hood River hospital’s emergency room and a few stitches fixed me. The next day, a very nice Vietnamese family offered to feed us some pho, after we had borrowed their lighter twice. It was so good and it was probably the best pho I’ve ever had, complete with all the basil and bean sprout fixings. I was amazed at how prepared this family was for their camping trip.

Because my poor arm could not handle any biking, we went on a hike instead. The view on top of Rowena Crest was amazing. I want to see this again and I will in a few hours! Woohoo!

Columbia River

Reminiscing my fun summer memories is making me feel sooooo giddy for the adventure today. I can hardly wait to get out of the house and go. But I want to share some other things that I’m excited about today… our snacks! Deli sandwiches on homemade bread (recipe will be posted later this week) and Jenna Weber’s (Eat,Live, Run) Whole Wheat Fig Newtons. It is so good!!! I had to have a taste test last night because I couldn't wait to see how they turned out. If you haven’t made homemade fig newtons yet, make it… and use Jenna’s recipe.

I made a few modifications:

½ cup of brown sugar for the dough

1 ½ cups dried figs and ½ cup dried cranberries (didn’t have enough figs)
2 tablespoons of sugar for the filling mixture (the dried cranberries are plenty sweet)


Now, off to Beacon Rock! Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Falling in Love at Orzo

Orzo and veggies...

I have never had orzo until I met DFJ a little over a year ago. On our first date, he asked me to come over to his house for dinner. It was pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach, pesto, and feta, with some tomato sauce over a bed of orzo. That’s when I learned that he was classy and not picky with food. This is a guy whose taste buds are not limited to grilled meat and hamburgers. I like…

Orzo is fun! I love how I can almost pretend that it’s rice even though it’s not. Because orzo is teeny tiny, it is versatile and can be put in anything… anything. Cold or warm salads, soup, casseroles, underneath stuffed pork tenderloins, ragu, and so on.

Last week, I tossed it with some stir-fried vegetables. It was a great accompaniment to DFJ’s homemade teriyaki-lime steak. Got no fancy words to describe this dish... it's just very simple and delicious.

This dish can be made with any vegetables (wilted spinach, kale, chard, tomatoes, squash, carrots, you name it) and can be tossed with feta cheese, parmesan, pecorino romano, or whatever suits your fancy. Here's what I did... 

Orzo, Vegetables, and Blue Cheese (Makes 4 servings)

1 cup uncooked orzo

1 tsp olive oil
1 head of broccoli, chopped
half of a medium sized onion, diced
about 5 mushrooms, chopped (you can use any kind, I used cremini)
half of a large bell pepper
freshly ground pepper
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika

blue cheese

To make the orzo:

Fill a medium sized sauce pan with water up to 2/3 full. Add 2 pinches of salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. As soon as the water starts boiling, add the orzo. Leave the pan uncovered. Stir occasionally and wait for it to boil again. Cooking time is between 9-11 minutes, depending on how you like your pasta. If you like it al dente, use less cooking time and if you like it more tender, cook longer.


Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until slightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes. Season with ¼ tsp salt and pepper (add pepper to your preference). Add the broccoli and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Season with another ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper (to your preference), then add ½ teaspoon of cumin and ½ teaspoon of paprika.

Serve the stir-fried vegetables over a bed of orzo and sprinkle with blue cheese. Toss everything together and serve warm.