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Meatless Monday: Lemon-Basil Orzotto

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Let’s face it, Mondays can be rough. After a long day back in the office, the last thing you want to do is spend a long time on dinner. That being said, a quick and easy meal doesn’t have to be boring. You can throw together tasty comfort food in less than hour.

Orzo is a great pantry item to keep stocked in the kitchen. With a quick cooking time, the tiny pasta is a great alternative to rice in many recipes because of its similarity in shape and size. Another bonus is that the large surface area allows for an even coating of sauce, meaning a perfect bite each time.

For tonight’s Meatless Monday, get cooking with orzo with Kelsey’s Lemon-Basil Orzotto. It’s just as dreamy as risotto, but requires half the time and effort. After sauteing the onion and allowing the orzo to absorb the wine (it’s only a half cup), cooking time is just about 10 minutes. Add the Parmesan, cream, basil lemon and peas together at the end, and voila! You’ve got yourself a satisfying springtime dinner.

Lemon-Basil Orzotto

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups orzo or pearl barley
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth (use vegetable stock or broth to make it truly meatless)
1/2 cup frozen petite green peas
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until fragrant and translucent. Add the orzo and toast for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cook until absorbed.

Gradually add the chicken stock, stirring frequently. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cover. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the liquid is almost absorbed and orzo is tender. Remove from the heat.

Stir in peas, Parmesan, fresh basil, lemon zest, heavy cream, and lemon juice. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

More Meatless Orzo Recipes:
Orzo Stuffed Peppers
Creamy Orzo with Tomatoes and Peas
Tomato Orzo Soup
Jalapeno Popper Orzo Mac N Cheese
Orzo Salad

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