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There are so many ways to show people you love them, but one of my favorite ways to show love is through food. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve watched my mom package up homemade and healthful meals for her friends when they needed them most. Whether it was a surgery, a bout with the flu, or just because, my mom was always headed out the door to someone’s house with a healthy, home cooked meal. I never understood it then, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand the gesture
I guess what they say is true, you really do become your parents. Because now, whenever given the chance, nothing gives me more joy than bringing a friend some home-cooked love. Maybe my coworker just had a baby, or maybe I know my girlfriend’s boys are sick and she needs a break, or maybe I just want to say, “Hey, I appreciate you,” whatever the case may be, I like to bring a home-cooked meal.
This turkey orzo pasta dish is one of my favorites, and it is always well received. It is simple to assemble (even at 36 weeks pregnant it was a breeze), it is delicious, and it is one of those dishes that is easy for whoever you give it to — heat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and you’re good to go! Not to mention, it is also “sneaky healthy” IE: all sorts of delicious veggies hidden inside. I brought this dish to my girlfriend Kristin a while back and her sweet 2 year old son was obsessed. Anything to get the kiddos to eat their veggies, right?
I usually prep a double batch of this dish in a large Le Creuset dutch oven. ***I’ll be the first to tell you, I have an unhealthy obsession with Le Creuset, and you should too! Their pans and bakeware are beautiful, they cook evenly, and they are incredibly easy to clean. They’re so worth the investment, trust me you’ll have them for years! I then separate the orzo into smaller Le Creuset baking dishes for the perfect dinner serving sizes.
When bringing this dish to a friend, I always like to try and bring them a whole meal. So in addition to the turkey orzo, I’ll bundle together a cheese plate, a salad, and something sweet for dessert. I’m not a fantastic baker, so I usually find myself heading to Williams Sonoma for their seasonal candies to add in, see here and here. I’m also a huge fan of their candles and hand wash sets when I know my friends need a little extra pampering. Lately I’ve also been thinking it would be so thoughtful to add in a set of potholders or a set of dishtowels to this “care package”. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
I also like to include the recipe and cooking instructions on a handwritten recipe card. I just think it is a nice, thoughtful touch, and that way my friends can re-create the dish if they like. I’m just putting it out there – nothing bugs me more than “super secretive recipe people”, so I do everything in my power not to be one. Food is meant to be shared and enjoyed. If you’re a crazy recipe hoarder, you’re no friend of mine. There… I said it… in my opinion — patent that $hit or share it with the people you love.
Random tangent aside… this dish was originally my Aunt Wendy’s recipe, she gave it to my mom, and my mom passed it on to me… in what was one of my favorite gifts from my mom…. EVER… see here. She hand wrote all of our favorite family recipes onto recipe cards in hopes that one day I’ll pass them down to my children. That day will come, but for now, I’ll happily pass this recipe on to all of you. It is my hope that you enjoy it as much as my family has, and that you go on to share it with the people you love. Especially when they’re in need of a little home cooking.
In this day and age, I realize we’re busy. And sure, there are plenty of online services where you can sign up to send people meals during times of need, but there’s nothing kinder than taking the time to bring them a little something you’ve cooked from the heart – and hopefully a little treat from Williams Sonoma as well.
Turkey Orzo Pasta
(1) 12 oz box of orzo
(1) 1 lb hot italian turkey sausage (we use Jennie-O)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – just enough for sauteing the vegetables
1/2 yellow onion – chopped
1 yellow pepper – chopped
1 red pepper – -chopped
1 bunch of asparagus – chopped into bite sized pieces (no ends)
(you can add in any other veggies you like as well – broccoli and mushrooms are fantastic in this)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese – plus extra for garnishing
– Cook orzo according to directions on the box. Drain and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
– Remove sausage from the casings and in your large dutch oven, brown thoroughly. Remove sausage from the pan, transfer to a paper towel lined plate, and drain off any excess oil. Add the sausage to the previously cooked orzo. Mix
– Back in your large dutch oven, add a small amount of olive oil to saute the vegetables. Saute the onion and peppers until tender. Remove and transfer to the bowl with the orzo. Mix again
– Saute the asparagus until tender and transfer to the bowl with the orzo. Mix again
– Now add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan to the orzo mixture
– Transfer the orzo mixture to a baking dish and top with the leftover 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
– Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbling
Note: You can make this dish as far ahead as you like; it freezes incredibly well.
*A huge thank you to Williams Sonoma for being wonderful and sponsoring this post!