A Pantry Dinner – Orzo with Sausage, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

Posted: April 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Pasta | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

I know, I know, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy, broke, and a bit fooded-out to be honest. I promise I have a few more posts up my sleeve, coming soon! To whet your appetite, here’s a dinner I made a couple of weeks ago but never got around to posting.

Something I like to do when I only have pantry staples lying around is put together a grain or pasta with whatever jarred/canned/bulk things I have lying around. Usually it’s got a bit of a Mediterranean nature — Italy, Greece, the Middle East, whatever. Couscous or orzo or rice or spiral pasta. Sun-dried tomatoes (always sundried tomatoes). Whatever meat I’ve got lying around, usually sausage or bacon. Pine nuts. An aromatic or two, like shallots, onions, or garlic. Fresh veggies if I have them, particularly mushrooms or red bell peppers. Maybe some chickpeas. Everything but the grain goes in the skillet with some olive oil, salt & pepper, maybe some other spices, then it’s all mixed together with the cooked grain. Maybe toss in some feta or parmesan if that’s what floats your boat. Dinner!

Pantry Dinner - Orzo

Here’s one take on this theme. Ingredients are all approximate.

Orzo with Sausage, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts


1 1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil – you can decrease this significantly if you wish
2 medium shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced or smashed
2 sausages (I used Niman Ranch Italian Sweet sausages), cut into rounds, and then each round in half
1/3 cup pine nuts
2/3 of a 9 oz jar of sundried tomatoes, oil drained (or add a bit of it — it’s very tasty!)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
generous splash of vodka
pinch oregano
salt & pepper to taste


  1. Start boiling some water for your pasta.
  2. Dry roast pine nuts over medium heat until golden brown. Keep an eye on them — they burn fast!. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil. Sautee shallots till translucent.
  4. Add garlic, sautee 30 seconds
  5. Add sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, salt, pepper, oregano, stir till mixed. Cook a bit till the sausage is heated through (I get the fully cooked kind, so I don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to kill me or not).
  6. Add tomato paste, stir till everthing is covered. Here’s a trick: You know how recipes only ever call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste and you end up wasting the rest of that little can? Next time, line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap, then dole out 1 tablespoon portions of tomato paste into each hole. Freeze, and transfer to a freezer-safe bag. 1 tablespoon portions of tomato paste, ready to go!
  7. Add vodka, stir till absorbed and/or evaporated. A bit of alcohol “unlocks” some of the flavor compounds in tomatoes that aren’t otherwise accessible (source). That’s why your grandpa always throws some wine into his pasta sauce.
  8. At this point, your pasta water should be boiling. Add orzo and cook according to the directions on the package — usually about 8 minutes. Drain.
  9. Mix everything together. Toss some feta in if you have it. Serve! Yum.

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