Here’s a dish that is perfect for quick & easy summer meals. Full of garden-fresh flavor, it’s even got something for meat-lovers (bacon) – and it’s the perfect way to get the kids to eat their vegetables.
Risotto is normally made with a high starch rice, like arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano, but in this recipe, we’ve substituted orzo, a rice-like pasta. Orzo is well-suited for a risotto-style preparation and brings a special texture all its own to the dish. It’s quick, too, taking only about 20 minutes to make, about half the time of a traditionally made risotto.
Hard squashes are usually associated with fall & winter, but the first mature butternut squashes of the season are already beginning to appear in markets. We love their sweet, hearty flavor in almost any dish and this one is no exception. Cooking the peeled cubes of squash along with the orzo not only adds flavor, but contributes nicely to the creamy texture.
There’s another intriguing ingredient in this mix: Distillerie du Perigord Elixir of Truffles. We recently sampled this new product and were suprised at just how unusual and different it was. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to try cooking with it.
Elixir of Truffles is nothing like truffle oil; truffle oils typically have a potent aroma and a strong, occasionally overpowering flavor. Elixir of Truffles is much more subtle. Fresher-tasting and more food-friendly than truffle oil, it’s more like a truffle-infused wine than anything else, and like a good cooking wine, you can splash it on liberally without overwhelming other flavors.
To add a bit of just-picked garden freshness, we stirred in a generous handful of sliced snow peas right at the end. The residual heat was just enough to cook them to the tender-crisp stage, keeping all that wonderful fresh-pea flavor intact.
And for a final, finishing touch? A sprinkling of savory-salty crumbled bacon and vividly herbaceous flatleaf parsley and – voilà! – dinner is served!
Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash, Snow Peas, Bacon and Elixir of Truffles
Orzo risotto is wonderful served hot as a main dish, but it’s equally good served at room temperature or as a chilled pasta salad. If you’d rather skip the bacon, try this dish with cooked shrimp or grilled chicken.
- 5 oz thick-cut bacon (we used pepper bacon)
- 2 cups hot chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb peeled, seeded butternut squash, in ½” dice
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tsp chopped fresh sage
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 Tbsp Distillerie du Perigord Elixir of Truffles, or more to taste
- 10-12 fresh snow peas, sliced diagonally
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Salt & pepper to taste
Cook the bacon in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings.
Combine the broth and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low and keep the liquid hot, but not quite boiling.
Add the olive oil to the bacon drippings and cook the squash, onions and sage over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened. Stir in the orzo and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the hot broth and water mixture, ½ a cup at a time, stirring, until orzo is al dente, squash is tender, and mixture appears creamy, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the truffle elixir and the snow peas, cover and let sit for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve topped with bacon bits and parsley.
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