October 28th, 2011

Tempeh Orzilla

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Serves 4
Time: 45 minutes

I’ve been living some sort of Memento/Groundhog’s Day nightmare in the pasta aisle. Every time I get there, I grab a bag of orzo and think “It’ll be fun to make something with this!” Then I get home and open the pantry door and a whole pile of orzo falls on me and knocks me unconscious. Then I get amnesia, and I head back to the pasta aisle…this goes on for days.

So I thought it was about time I used some orzo. It also happens to be the week where I challenged myself not to use my three most-used spices (cumin, thyme and fennel FYI.) And even though I use anise seed (and got called a cheater on Facebook), it was a learning experience for me because I’ve always been wary of using anise in savory dishes (or fennel in sweet.) But I really dug it here!

The end result was a fun saucy pasta dish full of texture and flavor. Brothy orzo with velvetty ribbons of spinach, succulent bites of sundried tomatoes and garlic. Lots and lots of garlic! I especially loved the texture and flavor contrast with the sausagey bites of crumbled tempeh on top, and the soft saucy orzo below. It was almost impossible to stop eating, and totally perfect for a weeknight meal. Thank the stars I have that pantry full or orzo because I think I’m addicted. I’m calling it Orzilla because Orzo With Spinach And Sundried Tomatoes With Crumbled Anise Tempeh is just too long to type. And because it destroys cities.

8 oz orzo

For the tempeh
8 oz tempeh
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
1 tablespoon soy sauce

For the sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (dry ones, not the oil packed kind)
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 cup dry white wine wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 cups baby spinach

To prepare the tempeh:
For time management, I steam the tempeh first, and prep the veggies, then rinse out the pot and boil salted water for the orzo. So, tear the tempeh into bite sized pieces and steam for 10 minutes. Set tempeh aside and proceed with the recipe.

Preheat a small pan over medium heat. Saute tempeh in oil for about 10 minutes, mashing the tempeh into crumbles with your spatula as you go. Add the spices and soy sauce, and saute another 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover until ready to use.

To prepare the pasta and sauce:
Boil orzo until al dente, then drain.

In the meantime, preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute the onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds more.

Add rosemary, wine and sundried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and turn the heat up to bring the sauce to a simmer. Let simmer until reduced by about half, 5 minutes or so.

Add broth and yeast and warm through. Then add the spinach in handfuls, letting each batch wilt before adding the next. Cook until spinach is thoroughly wilted then turn the heat off, add the orzo, mix well, and serve topped with tempeh crumbles.

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