I returned home after a weekend away to find that the snow in my yard was not yet melted. I couldn’t take it anymore. I shoveled the snow pile that was hiding out in the shade into the sunniest part of yard. I totally defeated Mother Nature.
The next step to forcing the arrival of Spring in our lives was to make a meal that tasted unmistakably Springtastic. I was inspired by a recipe over at ELS – orzo cooked with spinach and tossed with lemon zest and other fresh ingredients. We rounded it out with poached eggs, which made for a very pretty plateful (cheap and easy to boot!).
Lemon Ricotta Orzo
This recipe, adapted from ELS, will feed 5 hungry people…maybe 6.
3 1/2 cups dry orzo
1 heaping dinner plateful of chopped fresh spinach (about 200-250 grams, 1 bag or 2 bunches)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 T red onion, minced
4-5 heaping T light ricotta cheese
up to 1 T black peppercorns, freshly bashed
1 1/2 handfuls almonds
1. Boil orzo in a pot of salted water. At the same time, pop the almonds on a baking sheet and into a 350F oven for about 10-12 minutes.
2. When orzo is near done, add the spinach to the water, give it a good stir and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain and return to pot, removed from heat.
3. Add a glug of olive oil (~2 T) to the orzo, then dump in the lemon zest and juice, garlic, onion, ricotta and black pepper. Give it a good stir and taste. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon to taste.
4. Toss in the roasted almonds and serve!
I like Alton Brown’s method of poaching eggs. Here it is:
1. Fill a deep frying pan with water, add 2 t vinegar, cover and bring to a rolling boil.
2. Crack each egg into a small bowl or cup – a teacup with a handle works well.
3. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat. Carefully submerge the teacup in the water so that a little water comes into the cup and sets the egg. Then tip the cup to slide the egg out into the water. Repeat with all eggs and try to work quickly.
4. Cover the pan and set your timer for 4.5 minutes. When done, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel.