By Cat, March 2013 (Photo, right, from Gourmet Sleuth (1))
Orzo is an interesting pasta common in Greek dishes; it’s name means barley in Italian. It is debated whether it was originally made from barley, or simply named after barley which it resembles It is quite small and often mistaken for rice; indeed, rice could be used instead of the orzo in most recipes. It is slightly larger than pignoli (pine nuts), and works well in recipes such as this one, which use both orzo and pignoli.
Pignoli are often roasted or toasted, but I prefer them pre-soaked then toasted as in Crispy Pine Nuts (see also box in recipe, below)
Orzo-Stuffed Tomatoes with Pine Nuts
This is an interesting recipe because orzo and pine nuts have similar shape. It is a delicious twist on the tabouli theme. In fact, if you can’t find orzo, you could use bulgur, as in my Tabouli recipe
I’ve adapted this recipe from a package of Melissa’s Pine Nuts (2), originally by Chef Debbi Dubbs. The original recipe calls for toasted pine nuts, but I highly recommend soaking the pine nuts before drying and toasting, as it makes them more digestible. See Crispy Pine Nuts for instructions on soaking and drying them; see also the box, below.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 4 large ripe tomatoes
- ½ cup white or golden raisins
- 8 oz orzo
- 1 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup scallions, chopped
- ½ cup cucumber, seeded & chopped
- ½ cup Crispy Pine Nuts (see above); or plain pine nuts, lightly toasted
- ½ cup parsley, minced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- small bowl
- large bowl
- medium saucepan
- Prep: Slice a tiny piece off the bottom of the tomato so that it stands up. Then cut off about ½ inch from the top of each tomato (thus it is cut at top and at bottom, for access to remove the seeds).
- Working over the sink, scoop out the seed pockets, including seeds and juice. Remove the inner pulp and save for another use (or discard). Place tomatoes upside down on a rack to drain.
- Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Let sit until plumped up, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Filling: Bring water to boil in a medium pot, with a little salt. Add orzo and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In large bowl, combine cooled orzo, raisins, cheese, scallions, cucumbers, pine nuts, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Scoop mixture into tomato shells and serve.
Other Serving ideas
- If you want a larger, showy salad, double the filling. Remove seeds and juice from tomato, but not the inner pulp. Cut each tomato, nearly to the bottom, into at least 8 wedges. Pull the wedges down to make a star pattern. Scoop the filling onto the opened tomato, pressing a bit between each wedge.