May 23rd, 2012

A variation with beets: Quickest Warm Orzo Salad

Beets for Orzo

Jet lag. A lingering cough. An abrupt reintroduction to parenting. No sitter.

I went to see my doctor. Along with a hearty dose of ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine every 6-8 hours, she ordered rest. Ha.

Not so sure about resting, but easy dinners are helping. Saturday was pizza. Sunday this quick soba noodle salad. Monday eggs scrambled with peas and pesto from the freezer. And yesterday, inspired by my recipe for pasta with beets and poppy seeds

(remember this?)
Pasta with Beets

… I whipped up a variation of my one-pot warm orzo salad with brussels sprouts.

I made an easy dish even easier by swapping brussels sprouts for beets—vacuum packed ones, no less.

Delicious in 20 minutes. Maybe I can rest a little after all.

Now don’t get too used to me talking about packaged cooked veggies, because you know what I’m going to say, right? It takes all of 5 minutes of prep to roast beets. Cut the greens off, wrap each one in aluminum foil (you don’t even have to clean them first!) and place in a roasting pan. The oven does the rest and you end up with warm, sweet gems that, truth be told, taste way better than the packaged kind. All that said, the packaged ones are super convenient.

I’ve been buying vacuum packed organic, natural cooked beets from Love Beets (and, no, they have nothing to do with this post), but have seen a bunch of similar brands popping up in natural food stores. They are great to have on hand when you need something super quick or an easy snack (and, yes, my family snacks on beets).

Whether using home cooked beets or vacuum packed ones, you can throw them in a smoothie (no joke—combine them with berries or with orange and ginger), slice them for a sandwich, or combine them with warm orzo or silky creme fraiche for a super fast dinner.

And then, however you enjoy your beets, rest, rest, rest. Doctor’s orders.

Warm Orzo Salad with Beets & Creme Fraiche
(adapted from my One-Pot Warm Orzo Salad with Brussels Sprouts and Golden Raisins)
serves 4
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)

1 box orzo
Olive oil, to drizzle
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, diced (you can substitute 1/2 a large onion, diced)
About 8 large beets, cooked and diced
1/2 cup creme fraiche
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan, to taste

1. Place a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook until just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain, lightly drizzle orzo with olive oil, and stir to keep the pasta from clumping; set aside.

2. Return pot to stove, add olive oil and turn heat to medium. When the oil is just hot, add shallots or onion and cook until they begin to caramelize. Add diced beets, toss to coat and sauté until they are warmed through, about 4 minutes. Add cooked orzo, creme fraiche, lemon zest and juice. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Take orzo off of the heat and stir in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

*Note: Puree a small portion to share with children not yet managing textures. Otherwise, serve as is, being careful to chop the beets into age appropriate bite sizes.

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