Home is Where the Green is (Orzo with Asparagus and Proscuitto & Creamy Pea Soup)

5 Apr

My vacation diet while in the UK for 9 days was full of buttery, creamy, battered, mushy, meaty, potatoey, fatty foods where the only greens I encountered were in the form of mushy peas or a few slices of cucumber in a sandwich (I promise I will write about these experiences soon!)  Though fish and chips and pot pies were satisfying after the first few long, cold days of walking around London, by the end of trip, I was ready for some veggies.  Hence the following two meals.

Orzo with Asparagus and Proscuitto
Recipe from the April 2007 issue of Shape magazine, served with a glass of Rosso Grande from The Winery in Grand Prairie.

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I’m one of those people who hate buying the whole bunch of asparagus at the grocery store.  When you use asparagus as a side dish, it’s almost impossible to finish the whole bunch before they start getting dried out and woody.  This recipe calls for 3/4 pound of asparagus, good news for a greens-enthusiast missing her veggies.  Pair the tasty asparagus with tiny orzo pasta, and I’m back to Donna’s normal diet.

3 cups chicken broth
8 oz orzo pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 oz proscuitto, julienned (or smoked ham, though the prosciutto flavor is fantastic when contrasted to the earthy, slightly bitter flavor of the asparagus)
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Bring chicken broth and 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add in orzo.  When water boils again, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until al dente (about 10 minutes).  Drain pasta, and set aside cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Toss in onion and asparagus and saute for 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.  Remove from heat.

Add orzo, 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, sour cream, and proscuitto to skillet with onion and asparagus.  Top with parsley and freshly ground black pepper.  Mix until well combined.

Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves 4

Creamy Pea Soup
Served with croissants with butter and jelly.

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One soup, three green veggies, enough said.

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 oz pancetta or deli ham, julienned or diced
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 lb frozen baby peas
2 cups roughly shredded hearts of romain leaves
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add pancetta, onion, and celery, and saute until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).  Stir in peas and lettuce, followed by the broth and cream.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the peas are tender, about another 5 minutes.

Serves 4

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