Orzo with Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes


This dish encompasses some of my very favorite things: adorable pastina, chicken sausage, and peppers.  It’s also easy… ridiculously easy.  You just start browning the sausage at the same time as you put the orzo’s water on to boil, and by the time the orzo is done, you have your sauce ready to go.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that, and the flavors are unbelievable, with sweet, crisp-tender peppers, tart fresh cherry tomatoes, and spiced sausage bits in every bite.

Orzo with Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes

1/4 box orzo
1 package fresh sausage (I used garlic and tomato chicken sausage)
2 peppers, cut into strips
1/2 package cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (depending on size)
salt and pepper

  • Start water to boil for the orzo.  When water is boiling, season with kosher salt, add orzo and cook according to the package directions.
  • Meanwhile, begin browning the sausage in a nonstick pan.  If the sausage is still in its casing, squeeze it out so that it is in a mass in the pan.  Break it up with a wooden spoon and distribute it so it browns in small chunks.
  • While the sausage is browning, cut the peppers into strips and prepare the cherry tomatoes.  After the sausage has made some good progress, add the peppers and tomatoes and stir to distribute them.  Continue to cook the sausage, peppers and tomatoes together, keeping a careful eye on the orzo.
  • When the orzo finishes cooking, drain it and add it to the pan with the sausage and vegetables.  Mix together and serve.


Yield: Serves two or three for a main course, four to six as a side.

Source: Adapted from Giada’s Kitchen, by Giada de Laurentiis

Note: The original recipe actually called for roasted red peppers in a jar, cut into strips.  This is usually a standard pantry item for me, so I didn’t even give it a second thought when I made my grocery list and it turned out that when I went to look for them in my pantry or fridge, I was out – who’d have thought?  Instead, I used sweet Hungarian peppers from my farmer’s market.  However, I think this recipe would work equally well with sauteed red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers, or with roasted red peppers from a jar.

Wine Pairing: Hubby and I are trying to work through the bulk of our wines these days, because we are preparing for a trip to Napa in about a week and a half, and we’re going to be bringing quite a bit home!  For this dinner, we poured Pinot Grigio from Doukenie Winery in Purcellville, Virginia.  Doukenie is our favorite winery in the region – we are actually members of the wine club there, which requires simply that we buy twelve bottles per year (easy; their wines are delicious).  Pinot Grigio is normally not my choice.  I once received a bottle as a gift and it had oxidized.  Ever since then, I have been turned off by Pinot Grigio and will almost always choose Sauvignon Blanc or a more obscure white instead.  But Doukenie’s PG is very nice, crisp and yet smooth, with mellow fruit aromas.  It’s making headway toward changing my mind about Pinot Grigio, and I think it worked well with this dish.  I’d also recommend a northern Italian white, or a lighter-bodied Italian red such as Barbera d’Asti.  If you substitute pork sausage for the chicken or turkey, you could pair it with Chianti and it would be delightful.  Enjoy!

Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes


Sunday dinner.  The phrase conjures up images of grandmothers in aprons serving roasts on china platters, doesn’t it?  Growing up, we ate dinner at my grandparents’ house on many Sunday nights and whether dinner was of the roast-and-china variety or was more casual, my grandmother’s table was always warm and welcoming and full of love.   To this day, I love the idea of family coming together once a week for Sunday dinners.  Of course, having given up red meat ten years ago, and having moved hundreds of miles away to another state six years ago, I don’t do the whole big-family-eating-beef-around-the-table thing anymore.  But I do try to put a little bit of extra effort into Sunday dinners, because I have the time and because I like to reserve Sunday evening for my family (which is just my husband and I, most nights) to sit at the table, light candles, and relax together, or to pop in a DVD (tonight, it was “My Fair Lady” with Audrey Hepburn) before we jump back into the rat race for the coming week.

Today, driving home from our long holiday weekend, I had a six hour car ride in which to mull over dinner ideas.  I came up with the idea of stuffed tomatoes with a crispy Italian-seasoned breadcrumb and Parmesan crust.  Stopping at Whole Foods on the way home, I found gorgeous heirloom tomatoes in the produce section – fate smiling on me!  This is the result…


Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

4 vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes (small to medium sized)
1 lb ground turkey or chicken sausage
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded
1 tablespoon ketchup
salt and pepper (approx. 1 teaspoon of each)
extra-virgin olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Core tomatoes and remove seeds.  Cut off a small slice from the bottom of each tomato (for stability) and stand tomatoes in a shallow baking dish.
  • Remove sausage from casings and combine with egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and half the chiffonaded basil.  Season with salt and pepper and stir gently until just mixed.  Add mixture to hollowed-out tomatoes.
  • Combine remaining breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top of each stuffed tomato.  Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over top.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.

This dish is quick and simple enough to make on a weeknight – in fact, I do something very similar with bell peppers, a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis, and it’s one of my favorite weeknight meals.  But it hits the spot on Sunday too, and served with a simple green salad, it makes a light but flavorful finish to the weekend.  In fact, since this dish is made with chicken or turkey rather than beef or pork, it’s healthy enough to justify dessert – maybe a peach and blueberry crumble?  Sunday dinner.  Think about it.

Note: This recipe makes double the amount of meat you need for four tomatoes.  You can either stuff eight tomatoes and feed 4-6 people on them, or reserve the remaining meat for another use – I made mini meatballs for tomorrow night.

Source: Covered In Flour, inspired by Giada de Laurentiis

And a bonus picture – the new view from my kitchen island, thanks to the incredibly talented artist Amy Giacomelli