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Friday, March 25, 2011

Guest Blogger: Orzo Salad with Prawns, Petit Pois and Arugula Pesto

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 -
Printable Recipe 
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)


StephenC said...

This is a wonderful construction. Thank you, Jenn for introducing Michael to us. I'm adding him to my list of blogs I follow immediately.

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Michael this looks like a perfect spring dish! I love orzo and prawns, the combo of the 2 is delicious. I'm off to check out your site now :) Thanks Jenn for sharing another great blogger with us!

Drick said...

very nice, pleasing shrimp salad... from the Gulf Coast in the US, shrimp is on our menus a lot and this dish will be too, thanks Michael for another great recipe, love the flavors here...

mangiabella said...

pasta is definitely here to stay, great post Michael!!!

Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking said...

Thanks for introducing Michael to your blog and readers, Jenn! Great guest post. Michael, it's so nice to learn more about you and read through your delicious orzo salad recipe. I have got to try this some night for dinner. Thanks for sharing!

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

Oh what I'd give for a big bowl of that right now!!! Looks amazing. Great guest post!

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

wow, great dish... and I love Michaels blog, so it's great that he's introduced me to your blog too Jenn, which looks fantastic... can't wait to get truly stuck in!

Angie's Recipes said...

I love Michael's recipes too! The orzo salad looks so so delicious with prawns.

Cranberry Morning said...

How nice to have a guest blogger! The salad looks fantastic, but I just can't get excited about orzo. Maybe I need to try again.

Michael Toa said...

Thank you everyone for the nice comments. They're all very much appreciated :)
I must say, the salad is lovely with other shapes of pasta too, like fusilli or even linguine.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Katie said...

Pasta better be here to stay, or my appetite will be severely depressed. Looks great!

Mary said...

This is a fabulous pasta recipe, Michael. It really is good to learn more about you. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

Reeni said...

Thank goodness pasta is here to stay! I couldn't live without it! This looks so good - I love everything in it!

Magic of Spice said...

What a gorgeous dish and beautiful recipe :)

Pat said...

I love Michael's site and especially all those chocolate recipes that he has. It is great to see his passion for food.