If given the option, my kids would eat pasta every single day! While simple enough to make, without vegetables or protein, pasta alone doesn’t offer our family the sustenance we need to grow and thrive. I’m always looking for ways to give our meals a nutritional boost and one of the ways I do that on our meatless nights is through vegetables and cheese. With those simple additions, I can give my kids a meal that is hearty and delicious.
Small children love the varied shapes of pasta, and every new shape transforms their meals into something exciting. I recently introduced my kids to orzo, a short-cut pasta resembling rice. This versatile pasta variety can be used in soups, salads, main dishes, or even just served on its own. In place of our traditional vegetarian pasta dish, I created a warm orzo dish featuring a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, hazelnuts, and cotija cheese tossed with a touch of lemon and olive oil. Cacique® Cotija cheese is an incredibly flavorful artisan cheese, and tossed with the orzo, added depth and complexity to an otherwise simple dish.
Note: Click the ‘Products‘ tab above to learn more about the Cacique® ingredients used in this recipe. You can find these ingredients near you by clicking the ‘Find Stores‘ tab, selecting the products you are looking for, and entering your zip code.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 cup of orzo pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1/2 zucchini, sliced
- 1/2 yellow squash, sliced
- 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Basil
- 1/4 cup grated Cacique® Cotija Cheese
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Cook orzo according to package, approximately 9 minutes.
- Toast pine nuts for 5 minutes in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F. Set aside to cool.
- Sauté shallots, zucchini, yellow squash and bell peppers in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Do not brown.
- Turn off heat and toss orzo with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Add sautéed vegetables, cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, fresh basil and cotija cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.
- Tip: Be sure vegetables are chopped and ready to cook before cooking the orzo.
- Tip: Add a touch of olive oil to the water when cooking the orzo to prevent it from sticking together after it has been drained.