"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Friday, June 22, 2012

Orzo with Artichoke Pesto and Grilled Corn

I've finally had time to try a few new recipes!  I made this last week and really liked it - though I would say that this recipe makes WAY more pasta salad than one or two people might want to eat within a few days, so definitely cut the recipe in half unless you're having lots of guests.  The artichoke pesto was wonderful and a great way to add new flavor to pasta salads.

On a side note, this is one of many of Giada's recipes I have tried.  I was telling someone the other day that one of the things that really helped me to become a better cook was following Giada's recipes in one of her Food Network cookbooks that I got while in college.  The pastas, sauces, and dishes she makes are very versatile - so if you're just getting into cooking Giada's recipes can be a great place to start!

Orzo with Artichoke Pesto and Grilled Corn
by Giada de Laurentiis
Kosher salt
1 pound orzo pasta
2 ears corn, shucked and silks removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (about 3 cups) (*I couldn't find frozen ones, so I just got two jars of artichokes from the Italian section of the store.)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted (see Cook's Note)
1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, smashed
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (about 28)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Brush the corn with the oil, using a pastry brush. Grill, turning frequently, until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Allow the corn to cool slightly. Remove the kernels with a large knife and add to the serving bowl.

For the pesto: In a food processor, combine 2 cups artichokes, oil, walnuts, oregano, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as needed, until the mixture is thick and smooth.

Chop the remaining 1 cup artichoke hearts into 3/4-inch pieces and add to the serving bowl. Add the pesto, tomatoes and Parmesan. Toss until all the ingredients are coated. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Cook's Note: To toast the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.

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