Friday, October 31, 2008

Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes: a Very Giada Halloween

People knock her for the foxiness factor, but I’m a Giada DeLaurentiis fan, and I’ll tell you why:

1) Her food is generally solid, always from scratch, and pretty easily prepared on weeknights after work.

2) If I ran a blog called “Expensive Unhealthy TOTALLY FREAKING DELICIOUS,” her Aunt Raffy’s Turkey Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing would be the first recipe on it.

3) She occasionally does photo shoots covered in tomato sauce. The pics aren’t particularly appealing any other day of the year, but on Halloween … awesome. They make perfect accompaniments to an otherwise unscary blog post. (Thanks, G!)

Today’s recipe, Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes comes from Giada’s newest cookbook, titled … wait for it … Giada’s Kitchen. (Rejected suggestions: Giada's Dining Room, Giada Cooks, Giada Makes Food Then Writes a Recipe and Publishes it in a Book.)

Serious Eats posted on the dish recently, and it’s a bit different from the one found on the Food Network site. For one, jarred peppers replace fresh ones, and parmesan is used instead of Ricotta Salata. Sure, these’ll impact the flavor a bit, but they’re nice cash-saving steps for this time of year, when summer produce is kaput and the Dow’s hitting negative numbers.

I prepared the dish Tuesday night, and was impressed by its simplicity and clean taste. The chicken broth lends a nice depth to the orzo, and the turkey sausage adds a slight saltiness that eliminates the need for actual salt. The Boyfriend liked it as well, and I would have served it to my visiting sister L, if she ate tomatoes, peppers, or anything without the word “tot” or “Diet Pepsi” in the title.

Should you accept the challenge, two notes to … uh, note:

1) This is a tad heartier than the meals that usually appear on this site, but it’s still quite healthy for a pasta dish, which is why it’s here. To reduce the calories or fat further, you could cut down on the olive oil, use water instead of chicken broth, or even take out some parm. (Though – I don’t suggest that last one. Parmesan is pretty key here.)

2) If I make it again, I'd make one change (and it would only be this one): I’d reduce the orzo by about a quarter. There was a bit too much in proportion to the other ingredients. (For the purposes of this post, though, I kept the recipe as Giada wrote it.)

And that’s all, folks. Hope you have a lovely Halloween, and no one TP's your apartment. (Hey you kids! Stop that!) See you Monday.

Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Adapted from Serious Eats and Giada's Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis.

3 cups chicken broth
1 pound orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 links (7 ounces total) mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 garlic clove, minced
2 jarred roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a large saucepan, combine 3 cups of water with chicken broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

2) While pasta is boiling, get out a large skillet. Heat oil in it over medium-high heat. Add turkey sausage and cook around 4 minutes, breaking it up with the back of a spoon as you go. (It should be cooked through, but not quite browned.) Add garlic. Cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add bell peppers, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes (if using). Saute 2 or 3 minutes, until everything is heated through.

3) Combine pasta, sausage mixture, and 1/2 the parsley in a large serving bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. If you need the pasta water to moisten it up, add it now. Mix well. Sprinkle parmesan and the rest of the parsley on top. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
5 Servings: 491 calories, 13 g fat, $1.33

3 cups chicken broth: 50 calories, 0 g fat, $1.20
1 pound orzo pasta: 1621 calories, 8 g fat, $0.99
2 tablespoons olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, $0.20
2 links (7 ounces total) mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed: 280 calories, 16 g fat, $0.98
1 garlic clove, minced: 4 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
2 jarred roasted red bell peppers: 20 calories, 0 g fat, $0.99
2 plum tomatoes, chopped: 22 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.54
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional): negligible calories and fat, $0.01
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves: 3 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.33
Salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese: 216 calories, 14.3 g fat, $1.36
TOTAL: 2455 calories, 65.6 g fat, $6.64
PER SERVING (TOTAL/5): 491 calories, 13 g fat, $1.33


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