The sun hasn’t been brave enough to poke through the clouds at all here this week. So while it might have been warm, it certainly has felt more like autumn than summer – as I’m writing this, it has finally started to rain. We can still pretend however. Combining courgettes and fresh herbs from the garden with pasta, this could easily be a good cold salad, but when hot it makes up for the lack of warming sunlight.
The orzo looks like a slightly swollen and pointy grain of rice, but is cooked just like any other kind of pasta (albeit for slightly less time). It is traditionally added to soups in the same way as other grains: orzo literally translates as barley. Nowadays, it has become a more multi-purpose ingredient, used in salads or cooked more like risotto rice as well. As it tastes exactly like pasta, perhaps orzo makes for a nice compromise for people that like the idea of grain-based salads but aren’t necessarily so keen on that nutty and blatantly healthy flavour of barley or brown rice. It also cooks in about 8-10 minutes too so this makes for a really speedy dinner.
In a wide pan, heat the oil and fry the onions gently for 10 minutes until softened. Add the courgettes and cook for a further 15 minutes until tender.
While the courgettes cook, bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil and add the orzo. Boil for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is tender, and drain. Stir the garlic paste into the vegetables and cook for a minute before adding the pasta to the pan. Mix together before removing from the heat and stir through the fresh herbs and lemon zest. Season with black pepper and serve with the parmesan on top. Serves 4.