There is something magical that happens when you toast orzo on a hot stove. Who would have thought that browning this cute, rice-shaped pasta in melted vegan butter would be the first step in preparing a simple dinner like this? You will love this Toasted Orzo with Roasted Garlic and Asparagus!

Toasted Orzo with Roasted Garlic and Asparagus [Vegan]

Serves

2

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Ingredients

  • 2 unpeeled whole heads of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter
  • 6 ounces (about one cup) dry orzo pasta
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus (8 ounces) cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 ounces (about 4 cups loosely packed) arugula leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) grated vegan parmesan
  • 10 medium basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
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Preparation

  1. First, roast the garlic: preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a sharp knife to cut off the top 1/4 inch of the head, leaving the tops of the cloves exposed.
  2. Place the head cut-side-up in the center of an 8-inch square of aluminum foil, and drizzle the top with about a teaspoon of olive oil, coating the surface evenly.
  3. Gather the sides and corners of the foil and squeeze gently to seal and create a foil packet.
  4. Repeat with the second garlic head.
  5. Place the two foil packets directly on the oven rack in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes. Then carefully unwrap the foil packets and let the roasted garlic rest briefly until it is cool enough to handle.
  6. Squeeze the cloves into a small bowl, making sure to remove all of the papery skins, then use a spoon to mash them into a paste. Set aside.
  7. In a large, deep skillet with a lid, heat the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the orzo and frequently stir until the pasta is deeply toasted and golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  8. Add the vegetable broth and water, cover the skillet, and set a timer for 15 minutes, letting the pan simmer without stirring or opening the lid.
  9. When 7-8 minutes remain on the timer (for thick asparagus) or when 5 minutes remain on the timer (for pencil-thin asparagus), remove the lid, stir in the asparagus, and quickly replace the lid to minimize heat loss.
  10. When 1 minute remains on the timer, briefly remove the lid and scatter the chopped arugula and sun-dried tomatoes over the orzo without stirring, then replace the lid.
  11. When the timer rings and the greens are wilted, remove the skillet from heat and stir in the mashed roasted garlic, grated vegan cheese, basil leaves, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne.
  12. Stir to combine evenly, then taste for salt and adjust as needed.
  13. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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