Orzo with Thai Basil Pesto and Dried Cherries
The Pandemic has many aspects of life in a state of flux. Lunch is one of them. Many restaurants have voluntarily shut down.
Lunch goers have vacated the food courts.
With so many of us working from home, we have oodles of time to think about lunch. Everybody loves a good sandwich but we need a break from the bread-meat-bread routine.
So, what’s your solution? Thanks for asking. Pasta is a blank canvas and orzo is a fun alternative to the traditional pasta shapes.
Who has time to cook tomato sauce when I have a Zoom conference? Great question. Pesto is a refreshing, healthy pasta sauce that comes together quickly.
Thus, you’ve now freed up time for car eating sock puppets.
This version of pesto breaks with tradition slightly. It doesn’t have Parmesan cheese, so it’s vegan friendly. Moreover, adding orange zest makes the sauce, well, zesty.
Pesto alone is a divine sauce. However, a few extra touches elevate it even further.
Dried cherries and green onions are two ingredients worth keeping on hand.
Tossing them into any dish adds multiple dimensions of flavor and texture. The cherries are sweet, tart and chewy. In addition, green onions provide a crunchy, fresh element.
The pandemic has created a topsy-turvy world but lunch remains a constant.
Take a look at the video to see how the dish comes together.
A note on making pesto: A mortar and pestle is a fantastic kitchen tool.
Pounding the ingredients releases and combines the essential oils in ways that machines can’t. Also, using a mortar pestle is a great stress release. Very useful in lockdown conditions. However, a food processor works fine as well.
1 cup Thai Basil Pesto (Recipe follows)
1 Package Orzo (or any pasta you have on hand)
1 cup dried cherries
2 green onions, sliced thinly.
Cook the pasta according to the box directions.
Toss the pasta with some pesto. Add the dried cherries and green onions to the pasta. Mix thoroughly.
Eat the pasta salad warm or refrigerate until cool. If you’d like a pretty dish, garnish with tiny basil leaves and flowers.
Thai Basil Pesto
2 cups Thai basil leaves
1 clove garlic
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup toasted walnut pieces
¼ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
If you’re using a mortar and pestle, add the garlic, orange zest and little salt to the mortar. Pound them with the pestle until they’ve blended together. Add the walnuts and pound them until they become pasty.
Add the Thai basil in batches and pound them to mix with the other ingredients.
Add the olive oil a little at a time and grind it with the pestle to emulsify the sauce.
If you’re using a food processor, pulse the garlic, orange zest and salt a few times. Add the basil and pulse a few more times. Turn on the machine and drizzle in the olive oil until you have the desired consistency.
Place the pesto in an airtight container and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for 3 days.
Yield: 1 cup
How are you getting creative with lunch during lockdown? We’d love to hear your stories!