Monday, September 15, 2008

Creamy Parmesan Orzo

In our younger days, Rachel and I spent many a cocktail-addled evening making lists of famous people:
  • Dudes We’d Make Out With (#1: George Clooney)
  • Ladies I’d Switch Teams For (#1: Catherine Zeta-Jones)
  • Old People Who Remain Vaguely Attractive (#1: Harrison Ford), and of course
  • Famous Women We’d Like to Be Friends With.
Up until Saturday, Kate Winslet ruled that final compendium, with Ann Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Mary J. Blige, and Tina Fey filling out the top five.

Then, Saturday night, Tina Fey leapt to the #1 slot. And here’s why:

I watched it 267 times yesterday, and am already pushing 1500 views today. At some point, I’m going to have to feign work, but until then, I’ll content myself with repeating “I can see Russia from my house” over and over again until my head explodes.

Beyond being dang funny, there are two reasons this could be the best sketch SNL's put up since Peyton Manning's United Way commercial:

1. Political affiliation means little here. Between “cankles” and “I don’t know what that is,” Palin and Clinton are skewered with equal deftness and cleverness.

2. That sketch wouldn’t have made SNL ten years ago. For one, there were no super-prominent female politicians to satire. And? For the first time ever on the show (with apologies to Gilda Radner and Cheri Oteri), the ladies have taken center stage. Amy Poehler is SNL’s biggest name since Will Ferrell (or Tina), and Kristen Wiig looks like her heir apparent. It’s enough to make a girl tear up.

With that, let’s move on to the food. (And not the impending collapse of our entire financial system. Good times.)

Cooking Light’s Creamy Parmesan Orzo is a solid side dish - a classier, more adult version of macaroni and cheese. To make it, you boil a cup of pasta until the water’s been almost completely absorbed, kind of like risotto. Then, parmesan, salt, and pepper are added to create a delicate, cheesy sauce. Last night, I served it with spinach and Eggplant With Miso Sauce, though it could be paired easily with any lean meat.

Be warned, though: the flavor here will not smack you upside the head with its outrageousness. CL asks for fresh basil and pine nuts, which I take out for economy. If you want more of a punch, feel free to add them back in, along with a little hot sauce for kicks.

Oh, and one more thing: my wine cost a little over $10. If I had bought it at Trader Joe’s, it would have gone for half that, taking almost a full dollar off the price of the dish. (Uh, we did finish the wine, though. So nothing went to waste. Woo-hoo!)

Creamy Parmesan Orzo
Makes 4 servings at 2/3rd cup each
Adapted from Cooking Light.

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup orzo (about 6oz)
¾ cup fat-free broth
½ cup white wine
¼ cup grated parmesan
1-1/4 cups water
1/3 t salt
¼ t black pepper

2 T fresh basil
4 t toasted pine nuts

1) In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook orzo in it for 3 minutes.

2) Add white wine, water, and broth, and bring to a boil. Drop heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes (until most of the liquid is gone).

3) Kill heat and remove pan from burner. Add parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper. Stir thoroughly. Top with pine nuts if you're in the mood. Serve at once.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
232 calories, 5.6 g fat, $0.80

1 tablespoon butter: 102 calories, 11.5 g fat, $0.06
1 cup orzo: 609 calories, 3 g fat, $0.52
¾ cup fat-free broth: 11 calories, 0.8 g fat, $0.22
½ cup white wine: 97 calories, 0 g fat, $1.70
¼ cup grated parmesan: 108 calories, 7.2 g fat, $0.67
1-1/4 cups water: 0 calories, 0 fat, $0.00
1/3 t salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
¼ t black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
TOTAL: 927 calories, 22.5 g fat, $3.19
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 232 calories, 5.6 g fat, $0.80


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