Orzo with Peas, Mint, and Parmesan

Brimming with color and bursting with flavor, this recipe for buttered orzo tossed with peas, fresh mint, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese makes a delectable spring side dish. Try it as a partner to roasted salmon or chicken, or with grilled lamb chops or sautéed scallops. This recipe works well with frozen peas, but if fresh ones are available, definitely use them. They will need 3 to 4 minutes cooking time while the frozen ones will require only a couple of minutes.

Orzo with Peas, Mint, and Parmesan

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups orzo (8 ounces)
2 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen green peas (defrosted)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions including 2 inches of the green stems
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 to 3 tablespoons extra for garnish
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint plus several sprigs for garnish

1. Heat the butter in a heavy, medium saucepan (with a lid) set over medium heat. When hot, add orzo and cook, stirring, 1 minute to coat the pasta with butter. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and cook at a simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. If using fresh peas, stir them into the orzo after it has cooked about 6 minutes, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Then add green onions and cook 1 to 2 minute more. If using frozen peas stir them in along with the green onions and cook them together just to warm through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cheese and mint. Then season mixture with salt. You will probably need to add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt.

3.Mound the orzo in a serving bowl and garish the center with a few mint springs and sprinkle with extra Parmesan. Serves 4.

© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2012

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