I can't seem to follow a recipe. Often, I have something in mind, but I can't put my finger on it. I then search through eight or nine cookbooks in order to find something resembling what I want and then wing it from there. Last night was no different. I knew I wanted that sausage and pasta thing from so many years ago, that I didn't write down, and which I didn't know where to find the recipe. But I knew I wanted it slightly different anyway. I knew I wanted to make it with orzo, which I have never cooked with before. Was I feeling creative? Meh. I just wanted orzo with chicken sausage.
I set to work. Usually, when I know I'm going to wing it, I turn to my tried and true friend, Mark Bittman. I highly recommend his book Food Matters to explain his version of how we can individually impact our health, in easy and flexible ways. I own five of his books, largely because I love his improvisational style and because I love his conscientious impressions of food. In Kitchen Express, he writes recipes in paragraph form without actual amounts of ingredients, you just have to give it an educated guess. Mostly, I love this, except when I'm trying to make a proportionate amount of something for two people and maybe some leftovers. Then I turn to his How to Cook Everything which seems to be on everyone's shelf, or should be. It's my Joy of Cooking.
I started with Orzo "Risotto". Then I ad libbed some of his Jumbalaya recipe, just to confirm if I could get away with this one pot business. As it turns out, I can make stuff up and eat pretty well.
And because I loved it enough, here I am, writing it down. Honestly, I'll probably never make it the same again, but now I have a record of what I tried to do.
I'll probably use different sausage, different cheese, and with whatever veggies I have on hand next time I make this dish. Basically, this recipe is open to improv. Mesh whatever flavors you like together, Mark Bittman style.
One Pot Orzo Risotto with Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes and Herbs
Chicken sausage, sliced (I used sundried tomato, but I'd probably use italian sausage next time)
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic diced
1 cup chopped spinach
a few sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano, chopped
1-1/2 cups orzo
3 cups broth (I used a no-salt veggie bullion cube and 1 Trader Joe's chicken packet)
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper
For garnish, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
two green onions, whites and greens, chopped
crumbled feta (I think goat cheese might be good too)
In a heavy cast iron pot, brown sausage in olive oil over medium low. Remove from pot. Add butter and saute onion and pepper until onion becomes translucent. Meanwhile, heat the broth or stock in a separate pan.
Stir in the garlic, thyme and oregano, salt and pepper. Add the orzo to the pepper and onion and stir for about 1 minute. Add white wine and stir gently until the wine is incorporated into the orzo. Begin slowly adding the broth, continuing to stir for about five minutes.
Add the rest of the stock and cover, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes until all the broth is incorporated. Add tomatoes and arugula and stir just until arugula is wilted.
Serve topped with green onion, parsley, and feta.