Zucchini Orzo with Tomatoes
When I first planted my garden, I was nervous about whether or not anything would actually grow. I didn’t have much gardening experience: my mom grew a few fruits and vegetables a couple of years when I was young, but I had never had much interest and so couldn’t remember a thing about how to make plants grow. At this point in my life, however, I have discovered a major desire to work outside in the dirt and the sun, and to help seeds grow.
My garden has become a joy in my life. It makes me feel connected, deeply rooted. Gardening is a private endeavor: a few moments to be alone and to be quiet, just me, the bees, and Ava sunning herself on the concrete path. The garden, thankfully, grew with great gusto. I attribute this to good soil, good compost, the use of blood meal, the planting of wildflowers close by, lots of water, and the daily pep talks I gave the plants.
The stars of this year’s garden are the zucchini and the tomatoes. I had two zucchini plants, but the photo above only shows one, much trimmed, plant. The zucchini plants were huge, massive, and overbearing. We have had many, many zucchini come out of the garden this summer, which was such a pleasant surprise. I ended up pulling one of the plants out about a month ago in order to get some fall seeds in: broccoli, lettuce, and carrots. It was the right thing to do, but it still made me sad to pull those thick, white roots from the bed. The new, small sprouts, however, are already poking their heads above the earth. I like this.
The remaining zucchini plant is still producing several zucchinis a week, which is where this recipe comes in. This is one of the first recipes I ever posted on Blackboard Kitchen, over two years ago (!), but it is still a favorite, which is why I am resurrecting it from the archives. It is slightly adapted from Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I love to eat this fresh, bright bowl of summertime pasta – it’s been even better this year, though, with the produce coming from right outside my back door. Whether produce is garden, farmer’s market or grocery-store obtained, this is a winning recipe for the precious final days of summer.
1 lb. orzo pasta
3 large zucchini
2 tbs. olive oil
3 springs fresh thyme
1 tbs. fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup grated parmesan
4 tomatoes, diced
Bring a pot (about 6 cups) of water to boil. Salt water with 1 tbs. salt, then add orzo. Boil 8-10 minutes, or until you can easily bite into a noddle. There should be the smallest amount of crunch to it when you drain it– it will continue to cook in its own heat.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tbs. olive oil. Add onion to hot oil, sprinkle with salt, and saute for 3-5 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
Shred zucchini using the larger holes on a cheese grater. Squeeze zucchini in a kitchen towel to release excess moisture, then add zucchini to pan with garlic and onion. Add thyme (leafs only) and oregano. Sauté until zucchini is softened and lightly golden, 3-5 minutes.
Combine cooked orzo with the zucchini mixture in large bowl (or pot the orzo cooked in) and add parmesan. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Top with chopped tomatoes. Serve warm.