I am extremely excited to introduce this weeks guest blogger - Michael of Me, My Food and I! I found Michael, thanks to Chef Dennis of More Than A Mount Full, where he was a guest on Chef's Guest Post Friday. I was instantly drawn to Michael's site. What kept me coming back to Me, My Food and I, was not only Michael's great writing skills, but his love for food and for Nigella Lawson and the luscious simplicities of her recipes. Michael loves to cook for his friends and is not afraid to indulge every now and then (you gotta love that!). Although Michael lives 5090 miles away from me...I would be happy to share my kitchen with him any day! So, stop by Me, My Food and I and say hi to Michael. While you are there, browse around...I bet you'll find a TON of new delicious recipes!
Oh...and don't forget to check out my Fire Day Friday post over at Our Krazy Kitchen. Today's recipe: Mediterranean Grilled Chicken. So I'll stop typing now and let Michael take it away...
Hello readers of Jenn's Food Journey! I hope you are all doing well. My name is Michael Toa, I am 23 years old and I live in Sunderland, U.K. I love Italian food and for me nothing says Italian food like pasta. Unlike other infamous Italian food like pizza and tomato sauce, which have a fairly recent history, pasta may indeed have a much older pedigree, going back hundreds, if not thousands of years.
I was once told that the Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, brought back pasta from his journey to China in 1295. So, I did a little research and found out there are evidences of Italian recipe books from earlier years containing references to pasta dishes. Since China is an ancient civilization, with a complex culture dating back thousands of years, it's likely that pasta existed in China very early. Right, so we now know pasta did not arrive in Italy courtesy of Marco Polo; and let's just stop here because I am not a food historian and I could go on and on talking about pasta, but let me get to the point and share with you this delicious recipe for orzo salad with prawns, petit pois and arugula pesto. Arugula, or 'rocket' as we call it in the UK, is one of my favorite salad leaves. I was introduced by an Italian friend to this arugula pesto and I am a complete convert. I still often us the traditional sweet basil for pesto sauce, bit I just adore the peppery taste of arugula.
Orzo or sometimes called risoni are rice-shaped pasta. Mind-boggling, isn't it? I am so easily amused. They take minutes to cook and are perfect for salad dishes. I love the balance of flavors in this hearty salad. Balance is not something I can do in real-life, but nonetheless more manageable in my food. I love the mixture of peppery, garlicky taste from the pesto, together with natural sweetness from the prawns and petit pois, saltiness from the parmesan and freshness from lemon. In one short word: yum.
Regardless of it's history, I think pasta is here to stay. Don't you think? :)
Orzo Salad with Prawns, Petit Pois, and Arugula Pesto
Recipe from the kitchen of Michael Toa - Me, My Food, and I
- Serves 4-6 -
500 gr orzo pasta
250 gr cooked king prawns, anyway you like. Grilled with a little olive oil, lemon zest and oregano...just a thought.
200 gr frozen petit pois
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
For the pesto:
100 gr arugula
50 gr pine nuts
1 clove of garlic, peeled
100 gr freshly grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
In a big pot of salted boiling water, cook the orzo according to the instructions at the back of the packet. Two minutes before the end of the specified cooking time, add the petit pois to the pot. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and stir to prevent the pasta from sticking.
To make the pesto sauce, in a food processor, add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Blitz to mix for a few seconds and with the machine running, gradually add the olive oil to the desired consistency. Season pest to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the orzo and little peas with the prawns, lemon zest, juice, and the arugula pesto until everything is well-coated. Taste the salad and check if you need more lemon juice, more grating of parmesan or salt and pepper.
Best serve at room temperature with a handful of more arugula and just a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on each plate. Enjoy.
One Year Ago: Hamburger & Macaroni (aka: Chris' Goulash)