November. How did we get here so quickly? It felt like August not long ago and the beginning of September just yesterday. We’ve been back in London fully for a while now and it feels good to not have to pack a bag for a while. To cosy up with candles and blankets at home.
This recipe is September for me, so I missed the cut-off, but with the milder temperatures we have now I think this still works. It’s absolutely delicious and a good way to use up any courgettes (I got some in my vegetable box only yesterday). It’s also a great way to make something comforting with vegetables (something I find hard).
Sometimes when I create a recipe it’s because I use what I have to hand. Other times I dream something up in my head and try to execute it. And most often, it’s a combination of the two.
In this case I had an idea of a creamy orzo pasta with courgette. With lemon, because it’s the obvious pairing and flavour enhancer. But the mascarpone part of the recipe came to me because I had half a packet left in the fridge and I needed to use it up. And it’s the ingredient what made this dish so lovely.
For me, the whole point of orzo is to create something a bit risotto like, but with pasta. It has a different, silkier texture than rice and feels lighter somehow. But the creaminess is important. And mascarpone offers that in the nicest possible way. For me this bowl of courgette and orzo tastes of summer slowly becoming autumn, the trees changing colour, of tanned legs in trousers instead of shorts, of the clearer fresher air that september brings.
Courgette orzo pasta with lemon and mascarpone, serves 2
200 g orzo
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 – 1 1/2 medium courgette, cut in half and sliced
1/2 lemon, zest and a little juice
1/2 packet mascarpone
salt and pepper
Cook the orzo al dente in a saucepan. In a non-stick frying pan, heat upp the butter on medium heat and fry the shallots until soft. Don’t let them brown. Remove from the pan. Add the olive oil to the pan and turn the temperature up to medium-high. Add the courgette half moons and fry until soft and a little brown. Take the pan off the heat and add the onions back in. Lower the temperature to medium and place the pan back on the heat. Add the mascarpone and lemon zest, salt and pepper and stir until creamy. Reserve some of the pasta water in a mug and drain the orzo through a sieve. Add the pasta to the courgette mixture and add a little of the pasta water. Stir in a handful of grated parmesan and adjust the seasoning if needed. Spoon the pasta into bowls and sprinkle with some more grated parmesan before serving.