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Parmesan orzo with asparagus is easy, creamy recipe

Jessica Blydenburgh of Seminole shows off her Parmesan Orzo With Asparagus.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Jessica Blydenburgh of Seminole shows off her Parmesan Orzo With Asparagus.

WHO: Jessica Blydenburgh, 25, of Seminole, a kindergarten teacher at Starkey Elementary

WHAT: Parmesan Orzo With Asparagus

ABOUT THE RECIPE: When she's not teaching her kindergarteners, Blydenburgh is busy leading art classes at Michaels, working at a beach shop, or staying involved at her church. Her days get long. "That's why I like to cook meals that are quick but still good," she said.

In college, she resolved to teach herself how to cook more than just grilled cheese sandwiches. Today, she loves experimenting. "If I see (a recipe) I like, even if it looks like it might be complicated, I'll still try it," she said.

For Blydenburgh, home-cooked meals are a healthier, more rewarding way to eat. "You buy the ingredients yourself so you know where they come from," she said.

One of her favorite recipes is Parmesan Orzo With Asparagus, which she modified from a recipe she found on Pinterest. The rice-shaped pasta dish is a hit at every party. "Everyone always tells me that they love it," she said. "It's really creamy and cheesy." To cut down on prep time, she uses the microwaveable vegetable steam bags from the freezer section. If you can't find asparagus, you can also use broccoli.

MODIFICATIONS: Since her stepfather loves to hunt, her family often has a freezer full of venison. Once, Blydenburgh browned ground venison, then added it to the dish. Her family loved it.

WHY COOKING? "I like finding something that everyone is going to really enjoy and then sharing it with them," she said. "Cooking and food build a community of people."

CAN'T COOK WITHOUT: Upbeat dance music. "I kind of embarrass myself sometimes," she said. "I'll be cooking and listening to something, and I end up dancing."

Emily Young, special to the Times

If you have a recipe that you would like featured, or would like to nominate home cooks and their dishes, email jkeeler@tampabay.com with a name and daytime phone. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line.

>>EASY

Parmesan Orzo With Asparagus

1 cup uncooked orzo

1 cup asparagus, cut into

1-inch pieces (see note)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

¼ to ½ cup cream

Bring a large saucepan of water (filled about halfway) to a boil over medium heat. Cook the orzo according to package directions, about 10 minutes, until tender.

While the orzo is cooking, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces and add to the cooking orzo in the last 3 minutes of cooking. (If you are using a microwave steam asparagus bag, cook it and set aside to add later.)

Drain the orzo and asparagus and return to the pot. (If using the microwave asparagus, add now.)

Quickly add the Parmesan cheese and butter while the orzo is still hot. Stir thoroughly, allowing both the cheese and butter to melt.

Next, slowly add the cream to the mixture, while stirring. Continue to stir and add cream until you reach your desired consistency.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Note: You can also use microwave steam vegetable bags in the frozen-food section.

Source: modified from a recipe at sugarandspice-celeste.blogspot.com

Parmesan orzo with asparagus is easy, creamy recipe 06/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 17, 2013 4:32pm]
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