Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Giada, Giada, Giada..."

The name of a cook that I so greatly admire will probably remind you of the famous Seinfeld episode where "Yada, yada, yada" was introduced and quickly became universally popular as a means of making a long story short.  Well now that I am engulfed in cookbooks and "The Food Network", I can't help but find myself replacing the infamous saying with "Giada, Giada, Giada"--not as an ending to a story, rather the answer to whom I admire in the kitchen.  She is a talented culinary artist, and her recipes usually attempt to add the healthy flair.  Surely I need not tell you how ecstatic I was to receive her cookbook in the mail as a gift from my loyal and ever-so-supportive friend, Heidi.

I couldn't wait to see the recipes in this book...I said that I would attempt to make the first thing that I opened to, and that happened to be "Orzo-Stuffed Peppers".  It just so happens that we were going over to my Dad's house yesterday evening to celebrate my nephew's birthday, so I vowed to make this and bring it for everyone to hopefully enjoy.

This recipe is completely vegetarian, with the exception of the chicken broth.  I found it delicious, with the flavor of mint making it unique!  It seemed like most people liked it, but I think it was more of a "middle-of-the-road" review.  Joe loved it and had the leftovers for lunch today. 

I had one faux-pas when making this:  I doubled the recipe, and therefore purchased two cans of Italian whole tomatoes, yet when I was checking out from the grocery store, I noticed one of the cans had a bunch of dents in it.  I know that it is so popular to inject botulism into your muscles these days for the sake of erasing wrinkles, but I wasn't risking the chance of erasing anyone's digestive system with tainted tomatoes.  So, I asked the manager to get me a new can as she asked if I needed help.  It was only after I had opened the can and dumped it into the mixing bowl did I realize that she had picked up "pureed" tomatoes -- big difference.  The orzo mixture was a tad more runny than it would have been with the whole tomatoes, but it still worked...

Our contribution to the Jar for this recipe totaled $4.03.  The Jar is quickly filling up again -- can't wait to make our next donation and stock those shelves with more nourishment for the hungry. 

Here is the recipe from "Giada's Kitchen - New Italian Favorites" by Giada de Laurentiis:

Orzo-Stuffed Peppers
1 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)
1/4 chopped fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a large bowl and break them into pieces using a pair of kitchen shears or your fingertips.  Add the zucchini, mint, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high-heat.  Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes.  The orzo will be only partially cooked.  Drain the orzo through a sieve, reserving the chicken broth, and add the orzo to the large bowl with the vegetables.  Stir to combine.  Transfer the warm chicken broth to a 3-quart baking dish. 

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds.  Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up.

Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers.  Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle each pepper with cheese, and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the stuffed peppers to serving plates.  Garnish with basil, if desired.

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