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Appetizer leads to Creamy Orzo creation

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

A couple of weeks ago, I dined out at a local bistro, and somehow I'm still -- to this very moment -- thinking of the appetizer I had.

I didn't order it. Someone else did, and it was one of those moments where everyone stuck a fork in and did their own little taste testing. I assumed it was a light orzo pasta, but it could've been a risotto. Either way, it was quite delicious -- and did I mention I'm still thinking about it?

This would not be quite as remarkable if it weren't for the facts that -- a.) I only had one bite, and b.) It's not a dessert, and c.) It's not chocolate.

I always take into consideration that appetizers are a bit of a teaser. They should be called appeTEASER. I say that because they never quite satisfy your hunger, but most of the time they always seem delicious because you're usually hungry and sometimes starving, as was the case with me. Because of this, you never really know if they're all that good after all.

However, after two weeks have passed, I'm still thinking about the dish and when that happens I must explore what makes me so preoccupied. This wasn't really as much of a challenge as I thought since the three flavors that stood out the most were cream, garlic and a hint of cheese, which I assume was parmesan. Even if it wasn't, my instincts are always: parmesan fixes anything. Hopefully you'll agree.

Even though I'm pretty sure I didn't nail all the flavors exactly as the appetizer I barely tasted, I was inspired nonetheless, and I think you will be as well. This is a perfect little side dish or for me, and at my house, it was a light dinner.

I hope you try this meal, that you love it, and that you find yourself thinking of it long after it's over. Then I'll know I'm not the only one who does such things.

CREAMY ORZO

1 cup orzo pasta, prepared according to the package

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup bread crumbs or stuffing bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/8 cup chopped dried tomatoes

1/2 cup cream

1/8 cup white or red wine

1 T. butter

1 T. olive oil

Fresh basil leaves for garnish

1/2 lemon, sliced in quarters

In a medium size sauce pan over high heat, melt butter and oil. Add onions, garlic, bread crumbs, tomatoes and mushrooms. Sauté for 4 minutes. Add wine and reduce for 1 minute. Add cream. Stir until bubbly. Add cheese and mix well. Now add the orzo pasta. Top with squeeze of 1/2 lemon and garnish with torn pieces of basil.

Janet McCormick is the author of "10-Minute Meals." She lives in Lawrence County, Ohio. She can be reached at 304-654-2003 or www.10-minutemeals.com.

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