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Tuscan Pea and Orzo Delight

Posted on: June 26th, 2012

The weather’s hot, so cool salads and tender grilled meats are the ticket!  This week we got some beautiful peas in from Musso’s Farms in Pueblo, and my fresh herb garden is going crazy, so I put together this impromptu salad / pasta dish with a little pancetta in the freezer and pantry ingredients.

Is it a pasta dish or a salad?  Served at room temperature, it was more like a pasta course, but cold the next day it was more like a salad. Try it with grilled meats or fish piled right on top.

How Did it Taste?
Cool, tender pasta in a lemony dressing with tasty sautéed vegetables, crunchy pancetta, bits of cheese and fresh snappy mint and oregano. This salad was a delight, and when I tasted it again two days later, I had to take a picture and write it down.

What Did We Serve it With?
We served this with brined and glazed duck legs, Hawaiian marinated Chuck Eye Steaks and Kampachi fillets briefly pan seared in Tony’s Kansas City BBQ Rub (*notes on those dishes below).  My wife made gyoza, wakame salad, bamboo rice and sesame green beans (also from Carl Musso) – hey, we had an international group with Italians, Americans and Japanese diners from 12-80 years old, and it totally worked!

Our buddy Carl Musso, he and his family grow most of our summer vegetables at Tony’s, picking them at 4 am and driving them up two days each week. He provides us with over a dozen vegetable varieties a season, the most amazing sweetcorn and the green chiles for our fall chile roasts.  Gotta love your farmer!

Tuscan Pea and Orzo Salad

3 cups fresh or thawed peas
1 cup minced carrots (pea sized)
½ – ¾ pound orzo pasta
2 TBS olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ medium onion, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
zest and juice of one lemon
¼ cup each chopped fresh mint and oregano
6 oz. mild provolone or Asiago cheese, cubed
sea salt and black pepper
olive oil to taste

Boil peas and carrots in 2 quarts of water until crisp / tender, shock chill and drain.  Boil pasta according to package directions, rinse with cold water, drain and chill completely.

Chop pancetta and fry in a pan with olive oil, when crisp, remove to paper towels and set aside.  Add garlic and onion to oil and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add cooked and chilled peas and carrots and sauté to marry flavors.  Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, remove from heat.  Rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

Chop herbs and toss with orzo, vegetable sauté, cheese and lemon, taste and adjust with sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and more lemon juice or white wine vinegar to taste.  Serve immediately – amazing with grilled meats, poultry and seafood!  – Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com  —  www.TonyRosacciCatering.com

Chef’s Note: Like all great cooking, free to adjust ingredients, taste and adapt to taste – trust yourself!

*Notes on Entrees

Red or White Wine sauce, great with dark berry jam!

Duck Legs: Brined for 4 hours in Tony’s Poultry Brine (1/2 cup brine dissolved in 2 cups boiling water and blended with 4 cups ice water).  Spice encrusted with my Z Blend Seasoning.  Slow cooked on the Big Green Egg for about 2 hours.  Glazed and served with a blend of More Than Gourmet’s White Wine Foundation Sauce and Tony’s Organic Blueberry jam.

Hawaiian Chuck Eye: Boneless Chuck Eye Steaks marinated 4 hours in 4 parts Teriyaki Marinade kicked up with 1 part oyster sauce, 1 part Sambal Oelek (Chinese garlic chile sauce), 1 part water, toasted sesame seeds and minced green onion.  Green Egg grilled over direct heat, rested 10 minutes, sliced thin and served,

Kansas City Seared Kampachi: My favorite fish sprinkled in Tony’s Kansas City BBQ Seasoning Rub and quickly pan seared (less than 3 minutes) over medium high heat with canola oil.

Thank Heaven for my Big Green Egg – available in our Castle Pines Market: 874 W Happy Canyon Rd, Castle Rock CO, 80108, 303-814-3888.

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