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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On the Side

(Fine Cooking Magazine)

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time coming up with interesting side dishes.  Dinner for me is sort of a bookend event.  I think a lot about the main course and I think a lot about the dessert.  What I don't think much about is what goes in between.  This is why the side dishes often end up being treated like the ugly step sister in a fairy tale.

Lately I've been making more of an effort to expand my side dish horizons and not serve quite so much plain rice or egg noodles.  And I'm doing well.  I've tried a lot of new recipes and I'm feeling excited about some new recipes.

This recipe for Orzo with Brown Butter and Parmesan is a good example of what a little preparation can add to a somewhat unexciting pasta.  This dish is a new take on standard pilaf and is a nice accompaniment to almost any main dish you could think of.  I served it with a marinated grilled flank steak and it was a real home run around our dinner table.

Recipe:  Orzo with Brown Butter and Parmesan
(Fine Cooking Magazine, August/September, 2011)

1-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup orzo
1/3 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Thinly sliced fresh chives (optional)


In a 1- to 2-quart saucepan, bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer over medium-high heat.

In a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter turns goldenbrown and smells nutty, about 2 minutes. Add the orzo and stir with a wooden spoon to coat well. Cook until the orzo just begins to turn a light golden color, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the simmering broth mixture, stir, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the orzo is just tender, about 12 minutes; the mixture may still be wet but will set up.

Stir the orzo, season to taste with salt and a generous amount of pepper,


  1. I am with you. My side dishes are terrible and I struggle to think of them. I can think of 100 things to do with a pork tenderloin and nothing to serve with it!

    This MUST be tried! I was sold at brown butter and everything else is a bonus!

  2. Now that you mention it, Nadine, I too am guilty of, as you say, the bookend dilemma. Interesting that I never actually thought to alter it though.

    Orzo with brown butter was often a meal in itself for me. Which reminds me, I haven't had it in a while. Hmmm...will change that.

    Thanks for sharing...

  3. I made this Tuesday night and everyone in my house loved it. They would probably just eat this with a vegetable for dinner. I made it as a side dish to serve with orange glazed pork chops and broccoli.