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This creamy,golden, and delicious dish is from acclaimed Italian chef Cesare Casella. He serves it at his restaurant, Salumeria Rosi, on the Upper West Side. Orzo is easier to work with than rice. You can cook it 3/4 of the way and hold it, chilled, in the refrigerator and add the last half cup of broth and half cup of water the next day.” Recipe was printed in the New York Times.
FOR THE PESTO
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
- 1⁄2 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 cup firmly packed basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 2 teaspoons grated pecorino romano cheese
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- chili flakes
For the orzotto
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⁄3 cup chopped white onion
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 1⁄2 cup white wine
- 1⁄3 cup diced zucchini, generous
- 1⁄3 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- For the pesto: In a small food processor or blender, combine pine nuts (optional), garlic and basil. Pulse to chop, then while continuing to pulse, slowly pour in the oil to make a chunky mixture; do not purée. Transfer to a small bowl, and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano. Mix well, and season with salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste. Set aside.
- For the orzotto: Place vegetable broth in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. In another small saucepan, bring 2 cups of lightly salted water to a bare simmer. In a skillet over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and onion, and sauté until soft and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add orzo and sauté until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and sauté until evaporated. Season lightly with salt.
- Add 1 cup hot broth and simmer, stirring constantly, until liquid is almost absorbed. Add 1 cup hot water and repeat. Continue to alternately add broth and water 1/2 cup at a time until orzotto is tender; total cooking time will be 16 to 20 minutes and all the broth or water may not be needed. The finished orzo should be golden yellow (add too much water and the flavor will be weak; add too much broth and the color will darken). Set aside finished orzo, cover and keep warm.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and add zucchini. Sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir zucchini and 2 tablespoons pesto into the orzo (reserve any remaining pesto for another use). Add Parmigiano-Reggiano, stir until melted and adjust salt as needed. Serve immediately.