Orzo and an Anniversary

Holy Toledo. What a busy month January was. You can basically infer that if I'm not writing regular blog posts, my job has completely taken over my life. So yes. My job has currently taken over. Not that I'm complaining (I've been voyaging around the world on behalf of Beam), but cooking and sharing with you guys has been a great outlet for me over the past... YEAR!!! I've been a Brussels Sprout for a year! I hope over the course of this past year I've done a few things for you all:
  1. Given you a new appreciation for Brussels Sprouts (obviously)
  2. Turned Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast into a bookmark on your browser (you know it is)
  3. Made you think about the food you eat a little more carefully (but it's okay if you still love Cheetos)
  4. Offered up a few laughs through my brilliant writing 
  5. And most importantly... I hope I got you to try some new recipes!
My latest recipe that I'd like to share with you guys, is a good old vegetarian option. I've been kind of obsessed with dried mushrooms since I discovered how wonderful the soaking water is.

Dried Mushroom and Red Chard Orzo

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup dried portobello mushrooms
1 cup orzo pasta
2 shallots (diced)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups boiling water
7-8 sprigs thyme (leaves removed, rough chop)
15-20 red chard leaves (trimmed and rough chop)
1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
1/2 cup Romano cheese (freshly grated)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
olive oil

Start by boiling 2 cups of water. Pour the water over the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover. Let soak for about 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the soaking water, and set the mushrooms aside. Transfer the soaking water to a sauce pan. Add 1 tbsp salt and some pepper, the lemon juice and zest, and thyme to the mushroom liquid. Bring to a simmer.

While the mushrooms are soaking, heat some olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the shallots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. When the mushrooms are done soaking, add to the saute pan and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the chard to the pan, add a dash of salt and pepper, and all the mushroom liquid (after simmering away with the thyme and lemon for a while). Let the chard wilt down. It will only take about 5 minutes.

While the chard is cooking, cook the orzo pasta in salted water. When the pasta is finished according to the box, ladle a cup of the pasta water into the chard and mushrooms. Drain the pasta and toss in the saute pan with the chard. Transfer to a serving bowl and mix in the Romano cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

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