Recently, my sister Sophie was studying for her second CFA exam and had less time to cook. For those that don’t know, a CFA is a professional designation of chartered financial analyst and involves 3 very in-depth exams. Due to her intensive studying, she relied on prepared food to get through the long days. She found one meal that she liked so much that she asked me to recreate it; of course it was my pleasure to try and recreate it!
I started by tasting the frozen version of the dish: an orzo recipe with a fire roasted bell pepper sauce, vegetables and meatless meatballs. After my first tasting, I came up with a plan. The first iteration, to my surprise, went very well! It had a nice level of spice and seasoning, and since the orzo was cooked in broth with other vegetables, it had a deep flavour. After tinkering a bit, I got the version below: a nice balanced pasta dish with a bit of spice. One quick note here is that if you prefer, you can omit the meatless meatballs, but I would recommend adding them. I hope you all enjoy it!
Active time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 3 large red bell peppers (or 4 small)
- 5 shallots, diced
- 9 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup orzo
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed & chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1 bag Gardien Meatless Meatballs (or preferred brand)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- ¼ tsp hot paprika
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh basil, to top
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Remove the cores and the veins (the soft, lighter color part of the peppers) from the red bell peppers and cut them into slices. Place on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 22-25 minute until the ends are beginning to char and cook thoroughly. Remove and set aside when done.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium low heat. Add in 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté the shallots and garlic with a pinch of salt for 3-4 minutes until shallots begin to turn translucent.
- Then, add in the orzo and toast for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Next, add in the white wine and reduce until about ⅔ of the wine has either been absorbed or reduced off. Add in the asparagus, peas, vegetable broth and meatless meatballs. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 14-15 minutes until orzo is cooked.
- While the orzo simmers, prepare the red pepper paste. Combine the roasted red pepper, tomato paste, ¼ cup olive oil, chili flakes, paprika and a ½ tsp salt in a food processor and process until smooth.
- Once the orzo is done cooking, most of the liquid should be evaporated but not all. Add in the red pepper paste, parmesan and lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for slate levels. Enjoy!