Orzo with Grilled Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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Try this easy pasta dish alongside gilled lamb or chicken. It’s also great for a quick vegetarian lunch or for picnics.

1 teaspon salt
1 pound orzo
1/2 cup olive oil
Safflower oil or canola oil, for oiling the grill
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
2 portobello mushrooms, stems discarded and caps wiped clean, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes
Juice of 2 lemon
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 bunch or arugula or watercress, washed, drained, and stems removed
8 large fresh basil leaves, cut into very thin strips (chiffonade)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut ino 1-inch cubes
Salte and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Additional basil leaves, to garnish, optional

1. Bring to a boil 3 quarts of water in a large pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the orzo and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the pasta is just tender. Drain the orzo, rinse, and set aside to drain again. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the colander, toss with the orzo, and set aside to continue to drain.

2. Heat a grill pan to the smoking point over medium-high heat. (Or lightly oil the grill grates with the safflower oil and heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high.)

3. Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar in a small bowl. Lightly brush the zucchnini and mushrooms with the olive oil mixture. Place the slices, a few at a time in the grill pan or on the grill grates and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, until crisp-tender. Place on a plate to cool while the others are cooking.

4. Mix together the sun-dried tomatoes, the remaining olive oil, remaining vinegar, and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.

5. Coarsely chop the zuccini and mushrooms and place in a separate bowl with the orzo, yellow bell pepper, arugula, basil and mozzarella. Add the sun-dried tomato mixture, season with salt and pepper, and toss lightly to mix. Garnish with basil leaves if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.