Orzo, Spinach and Tomatoes

Orzo with tomatoes, (but not the spinach).

Orzo with tomatoes, (but not the spinach).

Every once in a while you need a dinner that’s especially man-pleasing without going the whole steak and potatoes route.  This is it!

Grilled steak and green  beans with orzo mixture.

Grilled steak and green beans with orzo mixture.

If you’re queen in your kitchen, as I am,  give yourself the smaller steak and load up on the orzo mixture and green beans.  Everyone will be well pleased.  Guaranteed!!   And if there should be any leftover steak,  slice it up and and serve it over the remains of this orzo side dish for the next day’s lunch or a deja-vue dinner.

I’m well-known for making a big pot of something-or-other and eating it (sometimes begrudgingly) for several days.   Usually it’s soups—they’re always good for on-going consumption, especially if you keep adding a little something like an extra pat of butter or a few left over veggies after each reheating.  Soups can get more delicious the longer they last.  Did you know this?

Since Monday is staring us in the face, I thought I’d start off the week with this last-all-week staple.  Something savory and healthy to help us get through the week with a smiley face.    This dish will taste best if the spinach and tomatoes are on sale!!!



Please note:   I decided to make this dish without the spinach this timeIMG_8113

Yield:   Serves 4


  • 1/2 pound orzo, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach, or larger-leafed spinach, torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1.  In a large sauce pan, melt the butter.  Add the shallot and sauté to soften.  Add the tomatoes and continue to sauté them until they start to release their liquid, and they soften.

Saute the shallots and tomatoes till they soften.

Saute the shallots and tomatoes till they soften.

2.  Add the cooked orzo to the pan along with the spinach, and toss to coat and integrate all the ingredients.   Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the cooked orzo and stir to combine.

Add the cooked orzo and stir to combine.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and minced garlic, plus salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the orzo mixture and stir to mix well.  Crumble the feta cheese over the top.


TIP:   Double the batch of orzo and serve as a cold side dish later in the week.  Just toss with a little additional olive oil before storing in the refrigerator in an airtight container.   Adding some chopped kalamata olives really perks up this dish also.   This is delicious hot or cold.

SOURCE:   Week Night Grilling with the BBQ Queens


Quick Fall Minestrone

Fall Minetsrone Soup with Cheese Quesadillas

Hit the Road, Jack!  Yep, that’s us. We’re hitting the road, going on a little vacation, going south, going to visit family, going, going, almost gone.  But before I go, I need to clean out the refrigerator, use up all the bits of veggies that are in there.  So what I’m making is a minestrone soup.  This easy soup  is made up of fresh fall vegetables, some orzo and a can of beans, making it hearty and filling.  I plan to freeze what we don’t eat so we will have it waiting for us when we get back home.  I know that after a long day on the road we will be happy to have a warming, nourishing soup to  return to.

While I’m away, posts that I have already written will be published, but I will not be available to respond to your comments for a while.  I hope you enjoy reading what I’ve prepared for the next week or so.  When I get back I hope to have some new sights, foods, and dining experiences to tell you about.

QUICK FALL MINESTRONE  (alias, Clean- out -the- refrigerator- before -I -go -on- vacation soup)

YIELD:  8  servings

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

    My ingredients differ slightly from the recipe, because of what I had to use up.

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash ( I only had about half that amount so I added about 1 cup of cauliflower florettes)
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed peeled baking potato
  • 1 cup cut-up green beans, about 1/4 pound
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrot ( I used fennel instead)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups chopped greens, such as kale, spinach, broccoli rabe
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • grated fresh Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

1.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic, sauté  2 1/2 minutes or until tender.  Please excuse me,  I got so caught up in this step, I forgot to photograph it.  But I’m sure you know what sautéing onions and garlic look like. 🙂

Broth and seasonings added to the sautéed vegetables.

2.  Add the broth and the next 7 ingredients (broth through salt); bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes.

Greens added; in my version I used broccoli rabe.

3.  Add greens, orzo, and beans;  cook 7 – 10 minutes or until orzo is done and vegetables are tender.

Ready for the soup bowls.

4.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese to serve.

My version of Fall Minestrone served with Cheese Quesadillas

To go along with the soup I made Cheese Quesadillas:  6 – inch flour tortillas with Monterey Jack cheese in the middle, warmed in a skillet till cheese melted.

Italian Wedding Soup

Here we are at the middle of June and the weather this week has been overcast and quite cool.

This put me in the mood for a warm bowl of soup.

Not a thick, hearty one but something rather light, yet filling and containing healthy ingredients.  The one that came to mind is this recipe for Italian Wedding soup.  A chicken broth base, with carrots, tiny pasta, beef meatballs and spinach,  it was just what I wanted.

A quick side note:  I always assumed it was so named because it was served at Italian weddings.  HaHa!  My friend Pauline who is  Italian by heritage straightened me out on that one.  She says it gets its name from the fact that it is a marriage of beef meatballs with chicken stock,  a wedding of sorts.  So—now we know.

I usually start this recipe by making the meatballs first,  putting them on a platter or tray in the refrigerator while I begin the actual soup-making……then when I need the meatballs they are all ready.  In fact they could be made a day in advance and kept cold so you save time on the day you make the soup, since this is what takes the most time.  With the meatballs all made, it takes less than an hour to make the soup.  Now let’s get started.




  • 1  Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs
  • 1- 1 1/3 cups small pasta, like orzo or ditalini
  • 10 oz. box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry; or 8 0z. fresh baby spinach
  • Prepared meatballs  (see separate directions)

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs, preferably Panko
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

In a medium bowl mix together the milk, egg, salt, breadcrumbs, and seasonings.  Crumble and add the ground beef. Gently mix with  the other ingredients.  With your hands, form into tiny meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.  It’s helpful to moisten your hands occasionally while doing this—-the meatballs seem to stick together better.


In a large soup kettle, sauté the onion and carrots in the olive oil, just till onion is translucent.  Add garlic and sauté another minute.

Add the chicken broth and herbs;  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium and simmer till vegetables are tender.  Add the pasta, bringing soup back up to boil,  simmer about 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs and cook until they are firm and float to the top,  about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, if using fresh, or warmed through if using frozen.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.   Oh, yeah!  This is good stuff!

SOURCE:   Pauline’s recipe with slight modifications by yours truly.