Friday, May 13, 2016

Orzo Primavera

A couple of weeks ago a number of us Mystery Lovers attended the annual mystery conference Malice Domestic in Maryland. We have a wonderful time, spending days (and nights) talking to old friends, making new ones, attending panels, applauding tributes to some of our favorite authors, and more. Every now and then we were invited to a party of some sort outside the conference hotel—and believe me, we needed the walk and the fresh air!

Me, Linda Wiken/Erika Chase, and MJ Maffini
(half of Victoria Abbott)
A couple of those took us past a charming specialty food shop, Secolari, which specializes in an amazing array of olive oils and vinegars and flavored pastas. You can even taste the olive oils, dunking with a small cube of country bread. Of course we went in, and of course we bought things. Lots of things. (Would you believe I now have a bar of blood orange olive oil soap? It smells amazing!)

Some of us went home with olive oil. I was flying and my suitcase was pretty full (hmm…books or olive oil? The books won.), so I opted for pasta: three kinds of orzo (hey, it was three for the price of two). I like orzo because it’s easy to cook, and because it’s kind of an inside joke because it looks like rice but it isn’t. It goes with just about anything.

Of course we asked the nice young man behind the counter if he had recipes. He did. We asked if we could borrow a few for our blog? No problem. This was the one that I grabbed, mostly because it’s pretty. 

Orzo Primavera

Ingredients: (Note: as usual, I cut this recipe in half when I made it, because it’s just the two of us eating. As given here it should serve four.)

1 lb. Pappardelle Rainbow Pasta
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Tblsp garlic, minced or pressed (if you’re garlic-phobic, you can reduce this)
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock, heated
2 Tblsp butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups prepared vegetables (whatever you have on hand)


Par-cook the orzo in a pot of lightly-salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes (it will not be fully cooked yet!). Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and set aside.

This stuff expands more than you think when cooked!

In a skillet, sauté the onions in olive oil over medium heat until they are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.

Add the white wine and reduce the liquid until it is all but dry, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock and continue stirring until the liquid is reduced by half. 

Add the partly-cooked orzo and mix. Then add the rest of the chicken stock, a little at a time. Keep stirring! (Kind of the same principle as risotto.)

Blanch whatever vegetables you’re using (I went with peppers, because the colors are so lovely, but you could substitute carrots, peas, asparagus, broccoli, and so on. Blanch means cook them briefly so they’re partially cooked but still crunchy). 

When the orzo is creamy and al dente (cooked through—keep testing), add the vegetables to the mixture and cook for one minute. Toss with the butter. Taste for seasoning and add salt if you think it’s needed (remember, the cheese will be salty).

Place the orzo mixture in a serving dish or individual bowls. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve immediately.

Thank you, Secolari and Pappardelle. Hmm, Malice will be at the same hotel next year—I’ll have to leave some room in my suitcase.

Dead End Street (Museum Mystery #7), coming in three weeks and four days--but who's counting?

Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society President Nell Pratt puts her life on the line to help save the city that she loves--not what she expected when she took the job!

Look for Dead End Street for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. It looks beautiful.
    I bet the store ships. Just saying...

    1. Definitely. There's a website And they have lots of lovely looking stuff. Maybe I'll drive next year...

  2. I missed that outing -- next year! And the recipe looks great!

  3. Can't you just see us? The Grazing Mystery Lovers, tasting our way through Bethesda.

  4. oh boy that looks good. i cant wait to read the new book!

  5. Has something changed on you website? I can't seem to pin your recipes on Pinterest like I used to. You guys have so many good recipes and I want to pin them. And this is one I want to pin.

    1. Not that I'm aware of, Elaine, but Blogger has been known to play games with us without notice. Tell us if it continues to be a problem.

  6. Delicious! I love dishes like this. Wish I had been there.