Thursday, May 23, 2013

Creamy Orzo with Tomatoes and Peas

The week before Baby Bear was born last summer, my dad went fishing in Kodiak Island, Alaska.

In case you're not familiar with Kodiak Island, it's the second-largest island in the US.  And it just so happens that the island is populated by MORE BEARS (those would be Kodiak Bears) than PEOPLE.  (This is my dad's definition of heaven on earth.)  And since my dad is more into hunting than fishing, I knew it had to be quite a place for him to spend his time fishing.  Quite a successful fishing trip it was.

We have been the very blessed beneficiaries of my dad's once-in-a-lifetime fishing trip.  He shipped home several hundred pounds of frozen salmon, halibut and cod.  He caught it, shipped it home, and we've been eating it ever since.

Y'all, I've bought and eaten a lot of fish in my life.  This Kodiak Island fish does not even come close to any fish I've ever had.  It's amazing.

I've baked it, grilled it, fried it and pan-roasted it.  My kids LOVE it.

So what does orzo have to do with fish?  Well, since we eat fish quite often, I've made this to go alongside the fish (and asparagus, since it's in season) a few times.  The whole family loves this's creamy, cheesy and colorful with tomatoes and peas.

As for the fish?  I'm going to be so sad when it's gone.  And as for Baby Bear?  He waited an ENTIRE WEEK past his due date just so my dad would get home in time for his birth.  Wasn't that sweet of him.

Creamy Orzo with Tomatoes and Peas
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta (12 oz.)
1 T butter
2 shallots, minced
15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pasta cooking water
10 oz. (about 1 1/4 cups) petite frozen peas

1 cup cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar, romano and parmesan)

Cook the pasta according to package directions - cook it on the al dente side because it will continue to cook when you mix the remaining ingredients in.

In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the shallots for about 5 minutes.  Add the drained tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Add the cooked and the drained orzo, milk and pasta water.  Stir well and remove from the heat.  Cover the skillet and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the peas and cheese.  The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese and warm the peas.

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