Roasted Vegetable Orzo

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Recipe

If a quick scan through my in-box is any indication, many of you are curious about...living with marble counter tops. The questions just keep coming, month after month, which makes me think this post is long overdue. So, let's give it a shot. After living and cooking in a very active, marble-countered kitchen, I thought I'd share some opinions, a bit of advice, and a recipe for the orzo salad I made on them just yesterday. Sound good? I'll kick things off by saying, you'll either love marble or it will make you crazy, anxious, and neurotic.

I love it, but made a number of decisions early-on that set the tone for our relationship. In short, I had no desire to keep it perfect. I wasn't even going to try. After I decided that, we were all good. I say this because absolutely every time anyone brings up the topic of marble in the kitchen, you end up talking about its propensity to stain, etch, and chip. Mostly the conversation revolves around staining.

My understanding is that many people apply a sealant every few years to help prevent staining and etching - we were advised that our counters needed re-sealing when we moved in nearly two years ago. The backstory: I suspect the counter tops here were installed about ten years ago when the entire building was renovated. The original sealant was applied at that point, and perhaps once more (?) in the meantime. At any rate, I decided when we moved in we wouldn't reseal them, for a few reasons. I don't like super-shiny marble, and I'm happy with a bit of etching, subtle discoloration, coffee blush, and all those things that come with a kitchen that has been much loved, and much-used. I want counter tops that tell a story over time. The kind that look like someone cooked, and prepped, and used them. Also, I use the counter tops directly for pastry and dough shaping, and don't love the idea of doing that on top of a chemical sealant that apparently wears off with use.

We do joke around a lot about "instant etching"...for example, when I'm juicing citrus, and there is acidic juice everywhere. In those sorts of scenarios, I try to be mindful, and will wipe that sort of thing off relatively quickly, but my overall attitude is more "whatever" / don't sweat it. That said, there are a couple exceptions related to my cooking style / repertoire. I'm careful with tomato sauce and tomato juice, wiping it off if it spills or splatters. And then there is turmeric, oh, and saffron. I'm not interested in having bright yellow stains across the marble, so I'm quite careful with those two. Or curry blends with turmeric in them. People seem to be particularly concerned about marble + red wine stains, but for whatever reason that hasn't been an issue. If we have friends over and there are wine glasses around they usually end up on the island or in the sink. If I was more concerned, I might make a pass through the kitchen once or twice over the course of a night to see if the counters needed a quick wipe down, but quite honestly, I never do. And the counters have been fine. I'm sure some of you have horror stories about marble counter tops (please share!), but so far, I like them more and more each day.

Roasted Vegetable OrzoRoasted Vegetable Orzo

Today's recipe? I simply roasted a number of the ingredients I had around the kitchen. I can't get enough delicata squash this time of year, and I always roast and eat it with the peel on. Kale? It's hard to escape right now. The orzo is a blend of whole wheat and plain - the remainder of a bag I've had sitting around for months. I tossed it all with a salted yogurt dressing of sorts. All said, don't feel limited by the my choice of roasted vegetables here, you can certainly swap in whatever you can imagine would be good - another winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, carrots - just roast each individually, until it is done (or tastes good)...

Roasted Vegetable OrzoRoasted Vegetable Orzo

Let me know if you have any specific questions related to marble in the kitchen, or if you come up with any alternative to my version of the roasted orzo that you're particularly excited about. I suspect there are going to be many more meals along these lines for me in the coming rainy months. xo -h

Roasted Vegetable Orzo

I used a blend of whole wheat and plain orzo pasta here. Use whatever you have or like. I find having percentage of plain mixed in with the whole wheat lightens it up nicely while still getting the benefits of a whole grain pasta.

1 medium delicata squash, seeded & sliced 1/3-inch thick
3 shallots, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted clarified butter
fine grain sea salt
4 medium cloves garlic, peel on

12 kale leaves, washed & dried well, de-stemmed & cut into 3-inch strips

1 1/2 cups / 9 ounces uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup / 120 ml plain yogurt

For serving: slivered scallions, fresh oregano, toasted nuts or seeds

Preheat the oven to 400F / 205C with racks arranged in the top and bottom thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment. You're going to roast the squash, shallots, and garlic on one sheet, and the kale on another.

Prep the delicata squash, and toss it in a large bowl with the shallots, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking sheets, add the garlic and place on the bottom rack, for about 30 minutes. Spin once or twice along the way to get even roasting - let it all get deeply golden.

After the squash is in the oven, use the same bowl to toss the kale with another splash of olive, and pinch of salt. Arrange the leaves on the other baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until you get a touch of browning, but the leaves are primarily still green. Set aside.

Get the pasta water boiling, salt well, and cook the orzo pasta. Drain and use quickly (warm) OR (if you won't be serving for a while) run under cold water, and toss with a tiny splash of olive oil.

For the dressing, extract the roasted garlic from its peel, and mash it with a bit of the yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Work in the rest of the yogurt, taste, and add more salt if needed.

When you're ready to serve, toss the orzo, and roasted vegetables with about half of the yogurt. Turn out onto a platter and sprinkle with scallions, oregano, and seeds/nuts. Serve the remaining yogurt to the side.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 30 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • Heidi: Awesome wintery salad! My best friend turned me on to your site and I LOVE it and your cookbooks! Thank you for turning out such wonderfully simple recipes that are a joy to make and to eat! In this day & age it's so wonderful to find a kindred spirit who loves delicious wholesome food in such an uncomplicated way!

    Audrey
  • This salad sounds delicious - roasting vegetables is my favorite way to eat them! I need to take a side dish to a family dinner next weekend - do you think this would taste just as good cold or at least room temp?

    Lorna
  • Heidi: Awesome wintery salad! My best friend turned me on to your site and I LOVE it and your cookbooks! Thank you for turning out such wonderfully simple recipes that are a joy to make and to eat! In this day & age it's so wonderful to find a kindred spirit who loves delicious wholesome food in such an uncomplicated way!

    Audrey
  • I have been living with marble countertops for the past 2 1/2 years, and I agree with you 100%. Everyone told me that I would regret having them and they were dead wrong.

    chris
  • I am an interior designer and marble countertop lover. I installed reclaimed white marble in my kitchen which came from an old city library in my city. They're probably 100+ yrs old. They look amazing; I am not a neat freak and regularly spill red wine, turmeric and lemon juice on them. There is nothing more classic than well-used marble and the character is something that can only be achieved over time.

    Deanna
  • Another recipe of yours that I will instantly go and make! I have a roasted beetroot in the fridge and loads of pumpkin and kale from the garden. Perfect timing, as always! With regard to turmeric and saffron stains, they are both UV sensitive and break down in sunlight, so if you can direct sunlight onto the stain (should it ever happen) by window or even redirect the light via mirror, the stains will disappear in a couple of hours.

    Diana C
  • When we reno'd our kitchen 5 years ago the "kitchen designer" just about drove me nuts with her focus on appearance instead of function. We went with granite counters and love them. I'm curious though; is there a functional advantage to marble over granite? Also I'm going to try the unpeeled squash and I can't wait for our kale to be ready.

    Pat G
  • I love anything with kale so thanks for this recipe. As to marble, I have a huge slab of honed white Georgia (not shiny) marble on my kitchen island and love it. I am not overly anxious about it and do wipe up things that might stain badly but really, I just live with it. I have soapstone on the "working" countertops and do wipe them with oil occasionally but the marble, no. And they are beautiful, beautiful.

    Judy Clements
  • I've always dreamed of marble counter tops, especially for the baking and pastry aspect. I am a bit of a neat freak though, and I worry if I could handle the stains as well as you do! But I love how you see the stains as telling a story. How inspiring :) Oh and that orzo salad looks to die for, but i believe that goes without saying.

    Jess @ Feast with Me
  • I like this post for a few reasons. I'm trying to adopt a similar attitude toward our Fireslate countertops, which are a combo of synthetic/natural materials and require tung oil for sealing. Well, with twins who are four (and are boys) we don't get to take care of things as well as we used to, and apart from the area around the sink, which is not looking so good, the rest of the countertops are holding up well.

    carrie
  • I think that is a great perspective to have on marble counter tops. You have to have the expectation that it may stain and depending on what you cook with that likelihood may go up so just except it. If you'd like to take precautions then apply a sealant to the marble surface and always use a cutting board but just accept that over time the likelihood of staining happening will increase. Take it as a sign of being a great hardworking cook who really loves their food.

    Jane Morai
  • This is lovely! How would you veganize it? Is there a alternate dressing you might suggest? HS: Hi Elyse, you could certainly trade out the yogurt for a favorite vinaigrette if you like, maybe a vinaigrette pureed with toasted walnuts or almonds for a bit of creaminess?

    Elyse
  • I love orzo - especially whole wheat when I can find it. I have been making a similar recipe for years (and very similar to one you'll find in the prepared food section of Whole Foods), and I add some feta cheese while the pasta is still warm so that it gets a little melty. Yum!

    Cat B
  • As a geologist and natural foods chef, I love the beauty of marble, but I greatly prefer granite in the kitchen. Marble has a hardness of around 4, while granite is about 7. Granite is difficult to scratch, marble easy. Marble has much greater porosity, so spills soak right in, like sauces, Easter egg dye spilled, and all sorts of things. Marble 'etching' is really a description of the way marble dissolves when acids contact it. Lemon juice, vinegar, and tomato sauce for example. You can literally see and hear the fizz of the marble dissolving if you put lemon juice on it, you can try this in a marble mortar and pestle. Granite is also good for rolling out pastry, or buy a little pastry table or marble slab. I do love your casual attitude, you would go nuts otherwise, especially if you have small kids! If I bought a house that already had marble though, I would love it I am sure. But if remodeling, I think granite is a better choice and likely has better resale value. There is nothing like the beauty of natural stone!

    Linda
  • Just have a comment about the marble... I find it quite effective to wash it sometimes with car wash... works fine!

    Kerstin
  • I love orzo - especially whole wheat when I can find it. I have been making a similar recipe for years (and very similar to one you'll find in the prepared food section of Whole Foods), and I add some feta cheese while the pasta is still warm so that it gets a little melty. Yum!

    Cat B
  • All I could think when I read this was "did she really move in there two years agos?!" For whatever reason I remember that post where you had prepared food ahead of time for your move...time flies so fast!

    kyra
  • Decades ago I saw a Scandanavian pine thingey on the Cape that I couldn't take my eye off. It had two sets of 4 drawers, side by side, each drawer 12": wide by 6" deep by 20" long, with old weathered, brass pulls, and simple but traditional paneling work on the sides. Carl Larsson's? Why am I telling you this? Because even though the light pine from some Swedish forest was buttery old and beautiful, it was the big marble top that held me. It must have been in a shop 100 years ago. Well, I bought it and pie dough has never been the same. I now use it in my 1850s Maine house in town on the coast as an island in the kitchen, and nothing beats using it for pastry work. And by the way, it never stains, though I am a fairly tidy cook. I think all counters in marble would make me dizzy but only because of the visual-for me at least-I like big butcher block areas on top too. But what a great combo!

    Lisa
  • I have had white Corian countertops and kitchen sinks (3) for 22 years. I do not like stains. I bleach the sinks occasionally, but the sinks still look yellow and dirty. Never again with white, although I like the brighness of it in the kitchen. Haven't tried marble and won't. It's like tile (first house, in CA) It is unforgiving and breakables which hit it too hard will break. On Corian they stand a chance.

    Joanne
  • I always seem to reach for orzo in the summer, but forget about it during winter. Your roasted vegetable orzo is definitely going to change that. I've never lived with marble, but we have a painted kitchen table that I used to stress about (scuffs, stains, etc.), until I finally let go and decided that the wear and tear tells a story of many meals with friends and family.

    la domestique
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