Fruit & Nuts

I’ve been a slacker blogger this month. I could tell you that it’s because I’m busy brainstorming cookie ideas for three lucky people (no Mom, I’m still not telling what I’m making), or that it’s because I’m prepping for Thanksgiving, but the truth is that it’s a little of this, and a little of that. Run here, go there. Add it all up, and we’re lucky that I’m making dinner, let alone writing about it. And somehow, I don’t see things slowing down at all – at least not until after Thanksgiving. ‘Tis the season for busyness, you know.

Even though I’m over-scheduled sleep-deprived busy, I’m still cooking. It sounds crazy to a lot of people, but I really like coming home and making dinner. At least on most days, anyway. (That said, if Andy decides he wants to spring for our favorite pizza on a Friday night, I’m not one to turn him down. I might be crazy, but I’m not dumb!)

Busy or not, I still want to try new things. Especially with sides – I feel like I get stuck in a rut with them sometimes. Tossed Salad. Roasted Broccoli. Roasted Sweet Potato. Lather, rinse, repeat. So when this tasty little number caught my eye, I figured it was worth a shot.

It fit all of my requirements for a weeknight side: quick (done in less than 30 minutes), simple (shelling the pistachios was the hardest part), tasty (no explanation needed here, right?), and it combines the carbs and the veggies in one dish. Dinner is much easier when I don’t have to come up with two sides (and yes, I feel like I need a second side if the first is, well, carb-o-licious).

Cranberry Pistachio Orzo 

1/3 cup uncooked orzo
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons wine* or stock
1 large handful of spinach, rinsed and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, cook the orzo according to the package directions. In the last minute of cooking, add the chopped spinach to the pan, just long enough for the spinach to wilt down.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Saute the shallot for about a minute. Add in the pistachios and cook for an additional one to two minutes.

Stir the cranberries, cream, stock and wine into the pistachio/shallot mixture. Continue to cook for three to four minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Drain the orzo and spinach and return to saucepan. Pour the cranberry/pistachio sauce over the pasta and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3 servings as a side dish

*The original recipe called for Marsala, which I didn’t have on hand. (Is this a foodie crime?) I did have some apple wine from the Door Peninsula Winery though. (I’m a big proponent of trying local wines.) The wine went really well with the dish! Score one for substitutions!

Adapted from Cooking for Two, Fall 2006

3 thoughts on “Fruit & Nuts

  1. This makes me want to go find apple wine–I bet the combination of cranberries, pistachios and apple wine would be great on a brick, much less a lovely pile of pasta and veggies.
    I’ll be getting spinach from the farm share next week, and it will probably be leftover after Thanksgiving, so I’ll have to try this then.

  2. I agree re apple wine. I almost feel like a marsala would have added too much weight and “importance” to what sounds like a light and airy side!

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