Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes

I'm visiting my family for Thanksgiving and I'm so glad to be back in Indiana. I have a huge surprise to tell you about. On the day I flew out, I got a huge package in the mail from Hickory Farms via Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program.  Hickory Farms is a company that sells things like sausages and cheeses and are pretty popular around the holidays. This box had 3 kinds of sausage, 2 kinds of mustard, 5 kinds of cheese, crackers and candy. I couldn't dive into it before my flight, but I can't wait to share it with my friends once I get back to Georgia.

Another exciting thing to tell you is that I've been asked to become a contributor at FoodColumns.com, a great site to check out for new recipes. I hope you check out the site and consider joining.

Now, onto one of the latest things I prepared from my family. I love coming home because I get to cook dinner for my family like I did when I was in high school. It's a nice stress reliever for my family to have me prepare dinner and I enjoy doing it, so everyone wins. I prepared a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis, one of my favorite Food Network chefs. Her recipes consistently turn out well for me, which is another reason why I like to prepare them. This recipe was from her old show, Everyday Italian, which I wish was still airing, but her new show Giada at Home is enjoyable. My mom loves orzo pasta and we had some turkey Italian sausage in the freezer, so Giada's recipe for Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes was perfect. The only alterations to the recipe I made was to add more garlic and swap out the ricotta salata because there wasn't any at the store. My family liked this recipe a lot. The orzo was creamy and even though it was a pasta dish, it was very light. I seldom roast my own bell peppers and instead opt for the jarred roasted peppers, but I might change my ways. The peppers I roasted had more flavor because it wasn't leached into the brine jarred peppers are typically stored in. They were sweeter and more meaty and silky than their jarred counterparts, which become a little softer as they sit in their brine.                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Orzo with Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes
Printable Recipe

1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 lb orzo pasta
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 sweet Italian turkey sausages (about 7 oz), casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Roast the bell peppers by holding them in tongs and placing them in the open flame of your oven's gas flame until the skin turns black. Or, you can do as I did and place the peppers on a foil-line baking tray and place them under the broiler, rotating them until the skin is charred all the way around. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes, or until the skin peels easily and they aren't too hot to handle. I used the foil on my baking tray to make a foil packet instead of using the bowl and plastic wrap.
2. Peel the charred peppers, however resist the urge to put them under running water because all the flavorful juices will go down the drain. Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs; slice into 1/4-inch strips and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
4. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Add the turkey and cook through, about four minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more before adding the tomatoes and peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes are soft.
5. Before draining the orzo, reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Return the drained orzo to the saucepan it was cooked in and toss with the parsley, cheese, and cooked vegetable and sausage mixture. Serve immediately.

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