Monday, August 04, 2008

Ground Pork and Eggplant Sauce with Orzo and Feta Cheese

This is what I did with the rest of the meat sauce and eggplant, and to tell the truth, I'm having a hard time saying which came out better. It's always nice to come up with one new use for a meat sauce, but it's even better to come up with two uses.

Pasta seemed the obvious choice to use with the rest of the sauce, but I didn't want to just cook up any old pasta I had lying around the house. I wanted something that would highlight the Grecian aspect. So I started thinking about the Greek restaurants I have eaten at here in Chicago. Many of them offer meat sauce and pasta. And the only pasta I could remember seeing on the menu was orzo.

If I ever thought of orzo, I always just thought of it as a different kind of rice, and was never really tempted to try it. I had nothing against it; I just didn't really see any reason to use it. My only experience with it was in the avgolemeno soup I used to choose at the Greek diner up the street that was always one of the options with the lunch special. They had a really good chicken marsala too, now that I think of it. Note to self - I should see if it's still as good as it used to be.

As far as I could taste, the orzo neither added nor detracted from the soup. Now that I think of it, it was better than rice would have been in terms of texture, but I never noticed it in terms of taste.

But when I started thinking of pasta to use with the sauce, and wanting to keep a Grecian theme, orzo seemed to be the only way to go. I stopped at Dominick's on the way home from work to pick up a box. I couldn't find any whole wheat orzo, but I really wanted it, so I bought the regular.

This came out really well. The sauce coated the orzo perfectly, and the feta cheese I added made it smooth and creamy. Fresh parsley gave it a lovely splash of color and freshened up the flavor. And it doesn't take long to put together, so it's great for a weeknight dinner if you have some pre-made sauce in the freezer. It travels well, too, for lunch at work.
Meat sauce with pork and eggplant (recipe here)
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
fresh parsley, chopped
1 package orzo
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Heat sauce in skillet large enough to hold the sauce and pasta. While it is heating, cook the orzo two minute less than the package directions. Add to the sauce and cook about two minutes more, until everything is heated through. Turn off the heat and add the cheese and parsley.

Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.

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