The Ultimate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebration Book by Jayne Cohen and Lori Weinrott
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TOASTED ORZO WITH FENNEL AND RED ONION

1 pound orzo pasta

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium red onions, sliced thinly

salt

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced thinly, fennel fronds reserved for garnish

1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup julienned fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon hazelnut oil

freshly ground pepper
    Heat a heavy-bottomed 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Add orzo and toast, stirring frequently. As soon as the orzo begins to brown lightly and give off a nutty fragrance, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir to coat orzo. Add 1 quarts of water, stir gently, and bring to simmer, uncovered.

    While orzo is cooking, heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Coat the bottom of pan with 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil, add the onions, salt lightly, and sauté, stirring, until tender but not browned, about 3 - 5 minutes. Remove the onions from pan and set aside. Add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil to pan, and heat over medium flame. Add fennel and saute until tender, 6 -8 minutes.

    When the water in the pot of orzo has evaporated and orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes, transfer it to a serving bowl. (If orzo is not tender, add cup water and continue cooking.) Stir in sautéed onion and fennel, parsley, and mint. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the hazelnut oil, and season with salt and pepper.

    Serving ideas: Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with lots of fresh mint and some fennel fronds. For extra crunch, sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts or slivered almonds.

    Yield: 6 - 8 servings
The Ultimate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebration Book
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