Tasty deconstructionism

29 Mar

I’m in the throes of moving house at the moment, and as the new place started out as an empty shell, there’s a lot of work to do. All the to-ing and fro-ing is having a detrimental effect on my diet, since I have very little time to cook, let alone plan meals. (As an example, on the day I started writing this, my lunch consisted of a packet of crisps and two squares of chocolate. Very balanced.)

So it seemed like a good time to share another one of my ‘barely cooking’ recipes with you, as it’s a go-to when I need some dinner but have neither the time nor the inclination to cook: orzo with deconstructed pesto.

Orzo, in case you don’t know, is a type of pasta that looks like rice. It cooks in about 10 minutes, as pasta usually does, in which time you can prepare the deconstructed pesto. So stick some orzo in a pan (the instructions will tell you about 90g – I would advise half as much again), add boiling water and salt, and let’s get on to the next step.

The ingredients of pesto, as far as I know, are basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese. In this recipe, we add all those things to the orzo without making them into pesto first. It is quicker (if you don’t happen to have pesto to hand) and it tastes better; somehow this recipe is more than the sum of its parts.

So once your orzo is done, drain it (use a sieve if you want to have anything left to eat), and then…

  • Add a good glug of olive oil and some basil leaves. (If you’re expecting measurements more specific than ‘some’, you’re going to be disappointed. Use your judgement.)
  • Add either fresh garlic or garlic powder.
  • Add pine nuts if you’re wealthy or mixed seeds if you’re not. You can toast them first if you like (oven or dry frying pan), and they taste better, but it’s not necessary.
  • Add some cheese. It’s suppose to be Parmasan but any hard cheese will do. You could even try vegan alternatives if that floats your boat.
  • Add salt to taste, and lots of black pepper. You can never have too much black pepper.

If you have any basil leaves left you can add them at this point to make it look pretty, as the basil leaves that have spent time in hot pasta look a bit dark and melted. But pretty it hardly the point – just eat it. It tastes great, and takes about 12 minutes. Even moving house, you probably have time for that.

Let me know in the comments if you tried it, and any tweaks you made.


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