Here’s an easy, spring-forward one-pot dish to throw together for a quick weeknight dinner. Orzo, rice-shaped pasta, cooks quickly in flavorful chicken or vegetable broth, then gets a good kick of lemon, garlic and herbs. Substitute similar-sized pearl, aka Israeli couscous, for the orzo. A great base to play with — toss in other favorite vegetables such as marinated artichoke hearts, asparagus, mushrooms, etc. Change out the cheese or omit altogether. For a more substantial meal, add in roasted chicken or smoked salmon or canned tuna. Leftovers make for a great portable feast — think camping, desk lunch or a post-hike snack. — Kim Sunée
One-pot pasta with peas, lemon and garlic
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 ounces diced pancetta or bacon (omit for a vegetarian option)
1 1/2 cups orzo (about 8 ounces) or pearl/Israeli couscous
Fine salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons dry white wine (optional)
2 1/4 cups boiling water or low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 ounces feta or grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas or fresh snow peas, trimmed
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or dill
Optional: 1 cup total chopped tomatoes and olives; red pepper flakes
Heat butter and olive oil in a large wide Dutch oven or pot set over medium-high heat. When butter begins to foam, add diced pancetta/bacon, if using, and sauté, stirring occasionally three to four minutes until fat begins to render and pancetta begins to turn golden. Stir in orzo, 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper. Cook orzo, stirring often to coat pasta with butter and oil, about one minute. Add wine, if using, and stir and until wine is mostly absorbed into orzo. Stir in water or stock and bring to a boil; stir again and reduce heat to low — look for very small bubbles on the surface of orzo — cover, and cook 10 minutes. Adjust heat, as needed, to maintain a low simmer.
While orzo is cooking, trim snow peas or remove frozen peas from freezer and place in a colander; quickly rinse with hot water; drain any excess water. Grate zest from lemon and place in a small bowl and squeeze juice into bowl; mince or grate garlic and add to lemon zest and juice; chop fresh herbs; dice or crumble feta and grate Parm, if using. Chop tomatoes and olives, if using.
After 10 minutes, fluff orzo with a fork. Most of the liquid should be absorbed into the pasta. Stir in peas, cover and let cook two more minutes. Orzo should be al dente, not mushy. If pasta seems dry, stir in up to a tablespoon or two of more liquid and cover and let rest a few minutes. Stir in feta or grated Parm and tomatoes and olives, if using. Taste and add more salt or pepper. Top with lemon zest, juice, garlic, and herb mixture. Serve warm or at room temp with a drizzle of good olive oil and some more salt and pepper, if needed and some red pepper flakes.