A friend of mine made me something similar to this dish a few years ago and I have continually thought about it over time – which means it must be pretty darn good! This is my version of it – I think I got pretty close.
If you are on a “no pasta” diet (which is just unthinkable in my book) you can substitute the orzo with couscous. But don’t get me started on the fact that couscous really is pasta - cuz… it is. It’s basically semolina rolled into tiny dry pellets. But people keep calling it a grain. Okay, now you got me started. Anyway, try Israeli couscous for something a little heartier, if you must substitute.
1 lb haricot verts (thin French green beans – fresh)
2 cups orzo
1 medium sweet onion
4 garlic cloves – minced
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (I used red and yellow – but red is fine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
2 cups crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste
Get your mise en place ready. Fill a 4 quart pot with salted water for both the orzo and the green beans.
Finely chop onion and mince garlic. Quarter and seed tomatoes. Chop into 1 inch pieces. Trim the ends of the beans and cut in half. You can leave them whole or cut them smaller – it’s all preference here.
Have a bowl of ice and cold water standing by for the blanching of the green beans.
Ready To Cook?
In a large skillet saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until translucent. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring continually until softened – about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
In the boiling salted water blanch beans for 1 minute. With a slotted spoon or spider transfer beans to the ice water so they will stop cooking. This process will keep your beans bright green and they will retain a crunch. If you put them in the dish raw – they will be a rather bitter – but blanching brings out their sweetness. Drain beans well and pat dry.
Add beans to the tomato mixture and return water in the pot to a boil. Boil orzo until al dente (it will continue cooking when added to mixture – so you don’t want to overcook it in the boiling process). Drain orzo and add to mixture. Add the white wine vinegar, parsley, feta and salt and pepper to taste. BE SURE TO TASTE! The feta is pretty salty – so don’t over do it. Toss to combine well.
This is great warm or cold!
The Perfect Bite
Here’s where I love to stack my fork to get a good complex flavor bite. Be sure to get some orzo, tomato, a haricot vert and feta together on your fork or in your spoon. Sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy! It’s truely a perfect bite…
The Perfect Pairing
If you’re serving this dish as a side, try pairing it with roasted chicken breast or pork chop. And try pairing it with a sweet yet oak-y Chardonnay like (sorry mom, but it’s French!) Fat Bastard. Smooth in the mouth with light aromas and a long, toasty finish. It’s a perfect pairing with a creamy pasta dressed in olive oil and tangy feta.
The Perfect Health
Did you know that Feta cheese contains about 33 percent fewer calories than most cheeses, has a much stronger flavor than many other low-calorie cheeses, such as mozzarella and can aid in the loss of abdominal fat? Read more HERE.