A few weeks ago, I took a big bowl of this pasta to a tailgate party for my son’s cross country meet. Some of the people liked the dish a lot and asked me for the recipe and so this morning I made another batch of it and took pictures as I went along, so I could upload it on the blog. If you have to feed a large group of people, this is a flavorful, delicious and easy meal to make. It is especially good for potlucks and picnics because it can be served hot or at room temperature and if any is leftover it’s a great next-day packed lunch. I usually add various colored bell peppers and zucchini and yellow squash to it but if you’d like to add any other kind of vegetables, that will be okay too because the dominant taste of the pasta comes from the Italian sausage and the Fennel Seed. The vegetables add color, texture and of course nutritionally, they balance the dish out as well.
1. 1 lb of Sweet Italian Sausage
2. 1 lb of orzo
3. One zucchini
4. 1 yellow squash
5. 1 medium red onion
6. 3-4 cloves of garlic
7. 2-3 sweet bell peppers (various colors)
8. 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
9. 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
10. 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
11. Salt and freshly grated black pepper (according to taste)
12. 8.5 oz jar of Sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil (I got it from Trader Joe’s)
13. 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1. In a large heavy bottomed pan, pour the olive oil and brown the Italian sausage in it over medium to high heat.
2. While the sausages are getting browned, peel and finely dice the onion and the garlic cloves.
3. Keep stirring the sausages, so they get browned evenly on all sides and till the casing gets a little crisp (at this point they are half cooked). This process usually takes about 4-5 minutes.
10. Squeeze the oil out of the sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the pot. Don’t throw away the olive oil from the jar of tomatoes – it is full of flavor and you will need some of it later to add to the orzo and the rest of it you can use in other dishes. It is great in salad dressing and vinaigrettes (it has some dried herbs in it and also the flavor of the dried tomatoes seeps through the oil).
12. Fill a second large pot with water and fill it ¾ of the way through. Add salt to the water and bring the water to boil. When the water is bubbling, add the orzo and cook it till it is done to al-dente level.