Pan-Cooked Risoni with Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini, Lemon & Mint
Another simple dish, again with simple ingredients, and with a simple cooking method to match- this bowl of lovely, silky, risoni noodles made for a great supper this evening- but the great thing about it, is that you could easily serve this cold as a salad too!
I know that people in America call this rice-shaped pasta "orzo" for some reason that I do not understand- but the fact that I do not understand it is also the reason I refuse to call this by that name! Where on earth did it come from? The word "orzo" is the Italian name for barley... which this clearly does not resemble! It resembles very large rice- hence the name "risoni"! End of rant- and on with the cooking show!
This is not one of the pasta varieties that I grew up with- probably due to the fact that it is possibly more Greek or Turkish than it is Italian or Sicilian... but even though I have only begun cooking with it in the past couple of years, I have swiftly grown to love it for a number of reasons!
The main reasons are the silky feel it has on your tongue as you eat it, the slightly chewy consistency and the infinite number of ways that you can prepare and flavor it... there! Those should already be enough reasons for anyone to love this stuff!
For one nice big bowl of supper, I needed just 1 cup of risoni, 1 zucchini (or in my case, 2 small ones), 1 Spring onion, a handful of fresh mint, a little lemon zest and around 10 cherry tomatoes or so. I told you this was another simple meal! But it's going to turn out to be simply delicious- so keep on reading...
Although the ingredients are simple and few, this will make you filling, health and satisfying meal that is packed with great Summer flavor. But you can see that for yourselves just looking at this picture, right?
The prep work here is easy... first of all boil yourself a kettle of water and whilst that is happening, slice your zucchini to about the thickness of one of your house-keys... not too thin! Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters, chop the Spring onion, but also not all-too-finely, and either grate, use a zester or finely chop about a heaped teaspoonful of lemon zest... and now you are ready to get going!
Pop your risoni into your frying pan, add enough boiling water from the kettle to cover them, add salt, pepper and 3/4 of the lemon zest and let them simmer away, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed.
Next, add the zucchini slices, the onion and plenty of freshly grated nutmeg... cover again with water and continue simmering and stirring until it too has been absorbed... this is, I suppose, similar to the way that a risotto is prepared.
Once the water has been absorbed, the risoni will have grown quite a bit in size, the zucchini will have begun to soften a little... and the time is right to add the chopped tomatoes and 3/4 of the finely chopped mint. Cover one last time with water and repeat the procedure of simmering and stirring... don't worry- it's all for a good cause! 'Cause it's going to be your supper!
After a further 4-5 minutes or so, everything will have come together, with all of the flavors cooked into the risoni, the lemon, the mint, the zucchini, tomato and nutmeg... that all you need is some nice, raw olive oil to give it all a nice sheen and some added fruity contrast, a last grind of pepper, the last sprinkle of lemon zest and mint... and a healthy appetite to enjoy the great little feast you have just put together!
I like to try exotic foods, I hate to eat the same boring foods over and over... but I always appreciate the simple dishes best of all!
Low in fat and high in flavor- unpretentious but yummy and fun! And so fresh with that lemon and mint that it is perfect for a hot and humid summer night- or cold for a light lunch! Keep things down to earth and simple... and enjoy some natural good flavors!