Going Meatless next Monday? Vegetarian Lime Orzo

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So, I know a few people who are now embracing Meatless Mondays (including our friends at Triangle Good Eats). Meatless Monday sounds like a good idea to me, but ever since my daliance with Vegetarianism (the hardest 12 months of my life), it’s still a little hard for me to imagine a filling, healthy, and satisfying meal without meat. Even my mushroom risotto needs chicken broth!

Luckily, I was able to find this awesome recipe for Lime Orzo, which sounded both delicious and perfect for summer (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Vegetarian-Lime-Orzo/Detail.aspx)

I’ve never cooked with orzo before, but it isn’t much different from making a risotto here at first. You let the rice and garlic cook a little in some olive oil. My only tip that differs from this recipe is to not let us the orzo cook in the oil for more than a couple of minutes or without continuous stirring for five minutes, because it will burn quickly. I had to do a quick recovery when I saw some grains of orzo turn from golden to brown a little quickly. The one really good thing I’ll say about this dish is it’s very, VERY forgiving of amateur kitchen cooks like me.

The fun part for me was shredding the zucchini and carrots. I bought a nice big grater for cheap a couple of months back, but didn’t have a need to use it until this receipt came along. If you ever need to take out some aggression, just grate some carrots into perfectly shaped shreds, it’s the culinary equivalent of a stress ball for me I guess.

Once you add the both and tomatoes, the dish pretty much takes care of itself. My orzo absorbed all of the liquid quickly, so it didn’t take much time to get the meal completed.The best part though is the use of fresh lime juice and zest (against, with the help of my handy, dandy grater). That’s what really brings everything together, it brings a brightness to the dish and makes it feel really seasonal and fresh. Combine that with the bite of fresh green onion and the smoothness of the orzo and tomatoes, you get a party in the mouth. If you want to go all the way and make it vegan, you can skip the parmesan cheese finish at the end in favor of some more fresh parsley on top.

So, I can’t say I’d make every Monday a meatless one (you’re talking to a girl who puts bacon in every salad), but receipts like this reminded me of how good food can be without it.

~Julia

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