Surprise! One more tea-infused recipe. This was a last minute experiment, and it was so successful, I’m glad I decided to try it. It was so delicious, I’ve actually made it twice now, and it’s a rare occasion that I’ll make something so quickly after having made it the first time.
One thing to note: this may seem like a waste of tea… Admittedly, I wound up dumping the tea I used, but that’s mostly because I panicked (which is like, Rule #1 in the kitchen DO NOT PANIC [sorry, Douglas Adams], heh)- at the 8 minute mark, I took out a piece to test, and it was FALLING APART MUSHY, so I thought immediately everything was overcooked and damn it all to heck, so I whipped it off the fire and drained it without thinking twice… only to have some pieces undercooked, while most of it was perfectly al dente. Boo.
Ostensibly, though, one could reserve the cooking liquid (the tea) and cook with it again, making more pasta, or adding it to a rice dish, or to a soup for a slightly smoky background, or – my next experiment with the teas, though it won’t be for a while as I consider this mostly a cool/cold weather dish – risotto… Anyway, point is, though I wound up dumping the tea, you could definitely reserve it for your own use. It will be starchier than the tea was originally, so plan accordingly.
On to the recipe!
4 bottles of Lipton PureLeaf Black Tea unsweetened
1 lb. of orzo
diced tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, whatever the local market had that looked good)
diced bell peppers (I found a gorgeous orange one, the sweetness did very well)
diced red onion (I used about a half of a medium sized one)
red wine vinaigrette – recipe follows
To be honest, you can use any combination of vegetables that you like raw, but the rule is to chop them up about the same size as your pasta. You don’t want big cubes to overwhelm your orzo in this case, which is why I diced them pretty small. The second time I made this, I used rotini, and cubed the veggies slightly larger to go with the larger rotini. I recommend playing with the kinds of veggies, too – other colors of bell peppers, cucumbers maybe, carrots, green onions, celery even, whatever you’re familiar with and enjoy the taste, to find your ideal mix. Since I’m going with a sweet vinaigrette, I chose to use sweeter vegetables, to complement and enhance the sweetness.
Bring tea to a boil in pasta pot. Cook orzo to al dente. Reserve cooking liquid, if desired; drain and rinse pasta, and set aside.
Toss orzo and diced veggies in a big bowl with just enough vinaigrette to coat.
While it’s tasty enough at this time, I find it tastes even better if you chill overnight and let the flavors mix.
Also – while I’m not a fan of mint in savory applications, I thought this could be made even more refreshing with the addition of fresh mint, chopped up. A lot of people put mint in their tea – so why not? The tea is definitely lighter in presence in this recipe than the other two recipes I made, but it imparts a smoky background that is quite lovely. I brought it to a BBQ and everyone dogged it, and I got quite a few compliments on it… so definitely make this!!!
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I actually found a bottle of raspberry red wine vinegar from Petrossian in my cupboard – it must be from a gift basket, I’m sure I didn’t buy it – so I cut out the honey, as I found this was sweet enough; alternatively, you could buy raspberry red wine vinegar!)
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk all ingredients together except the olive oil; slowly stream in the olive oil until it comes together.
The vinaigrette is also a great little recipe I plan on tucking away to make over and over again. It was sweet and sour all at the same time, delicious! I can see this working on a lot of various dishes, not just this pasta salad…
and like I said, I even made this dish again since it was finished at the BBQ – so I could bring some in for lunch!
As always, happy eating!!!