Right now, I am going through a Mediterranean cooking phase. It happens around this time every year, when the days are long and sunny; the weather too hot for oven roasted anything.
I crave fresh ingredients; simple flavours; loads and loads of olive oil. And ice cream. Lots of ice cream. Incidentally, I’m eating THIS right now and it is totally yum.
But back to cooking. Tonight’s meal is outrageously simple, with bold extravagant flavours. If you aren’t keen on salty dishes – and I’m looking at my little sister here who would be freaking out – I’m going to advise that you swap the feta for a different sort of creamy cheese (mozzarella or ricotta would work so well), or leave out the olives if you’re not a fan of those. It will still be delicious.
But if you’re the type who, like me, is a big fan of the richness of Mediterranean flavours in all their fullness, make this dish. If you can, buy the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find, and go heavy on the basil because it really brings this dish to life.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 300 grams baby tomatoes of any kind, quartered.
- A generous handful of Kalamata olives, chopped
- 100 grams feta cheese
- 180 grams orzo
- 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
- The zest of half a lemon
- The juice of half a lemon
- A generous handful of fresh basil leaves
- A glug of olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to season
Cook the orzo in a pan of salted boiling water until al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat, and add the crushed garlic. Cook until fragrant, before adding the tomatoes, olives and lemon zest. Allow them to cook lightly but don’t let the tomatoes start to go squashy – they should be soft but hold their shape.
Once the orzo is ready, drain it, retaining a little of the pasta water, and add both to the tomatoes and olives. Allow everything to cook together before adding the lemon juice. If there looks like there’s a lot of liquid, allow some of it to cook off before turning off the heat. Finally, add the basil and serve, before crumbling half of the feta over each portion. Season (black pepper works wonders here) and add a final drizzle of olive oil before eating.