Marvelous Monday and Summer Vegetable Whole Wheat Orzo

Yesterday was the absolute perfect Monday.  That should be an oxymoron, right?  Well, I’ve said it and I am sticking to it!  Following the most ideal Sunday, particularly considering the time change, yesterday in Denver the sun was shining, the temperatures were hovering at 70º, and it was a downright productive, delightful day.  During lunch my coworker and I took a walk along the Cherry Creek/Speer trail, situated across the street from our campus.  The work day ended and it was still bright and beautiful outside.  After stopping by my favorite little consignment shop, Ali’s Closet, to consign a few items (I was all about spring cleaning this weekend), I jetted home with enough time to go on a 3 mile run.  It was so invigorating to not have to go to a gym or a class to get in my evening workout.  My neighbors were also out and about, and needless to say, everyone was in a good mood.

The views while running this weekend through my neighborhood.
The views while running this weekend through my neighborhood.

I returned home and started cooking right away.  The hubs and I typically plan out our meals about a week in advance.  It makes grocery shopping incredibly easy, and you never have to worry about that bothersome question, “What should we have for dinner tonight?”  I loathe that question.  I had decided over the weekend, mainly due to the weather, that I was going to make Summer Vegetable Whole Wheat Orzo, an interpretation of Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta.  Wandering around Whole Foods I felt inspired by the bright colors and freshness of the vegetables, and had already purchased the orzo a few weeks back.  The time was right and I was in the mood for light, delicious, healthy fare.  This meal is filling without weighing you down, and very easy to prepare.  It took me 30 minutes in total to prepare and cook this meal.  Overall, one serving is approximately 400 calories.

Summer Vegetable Whole Wheat Orzo

  • ½ pint of cherry tomatoes (I prefer mixed yellow, orange and red cherry tomatoes for interest)
  • 1 large zucchini (diced to approximate size of tomatoes)
  • 1 large yellow squash (diced to approximate size of tomatoes)
  • ½ pint diced mushrooms (whichever is your favorite, I prefer cremini)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (approximately 3 cloves)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • Good olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Between 12 and 18 fresh basil leaves julienned (plus extra for serving)
  • ½ – ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan (plus extra for serving)
  • 1 lb whole wheat orzo

Pour ½ cup of olive oil into a sauté pan and heat on medium heat.  Add zucchini, yellow squash,

Delicious, colorful, and healthy food - what could be better?
Delicious, colorful, and healthy food – what could be better?

cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms.  Sauté the vegetables for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and Italian seasoning, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Season with salt and pepper, and add the fresh basil.  Meanwhile, bring about 4-5 quarts of water with a splash of olive oil and a teaspoon of sea salt to a boil.  Add the orzo and cook according to the instructions for al dente pasta (between 6 and 8 minutes typically).  Drain the orzo but do not rinse.  Add the orzo back to the pot, and mix in the sautéed vegetables.  Add the cheese and stir until incorporated.  Serve in big bowls with extra cheese and basil on top.  Enjoy!

Now doesn’t it sound like I had the perfect Monday?  After dinner, I got to snuggle on the couch with the hubs and pup, drink some Jane’s Garden green tea, and truly relax.  Such bliss.

Harney & Son's Jane's Garden tea is my absolute favorite green tea! You must try it!
Harney & Son’s Jane’s Garden tea is my absolute favorite green tea! You must try it!

Does warm weather inspire you to be more productive?  Are you ready for spring?  What are your favorite summery meals to make?  Do you plan out your meals in advance, or see where your culinary adventures will take you?

5 thoughts on “Marvelous Monday and Summer Vegetable Whole Wheat Orzo

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