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Orzo Pilaf with Mushrooms, Leeks, and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

This versatile pilaf would work perfectly as a side dish to chicken or fish, but it’s equally delicious as the main dish, when used as a stuffing. Try it this week as a stuffing in your squash or green peppers! Ingredients: Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Three options for use and preparation:
    1. If using squash, trim stem off and cut squash in half. Scoop out the pulp and seeds and brush the cut side with olive oil. Bake, cut side down, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and flip over and let cool slightly while you prepare stuffing.
    2. If using green peppers, then cut the top off the pepper, stem included, so that you can stuff and replace the top as a lid. Set aside.
    3. If using as a side dish, then prepare an 8x8 baking dish by greasing lightly with olive oil.
  3. Bring broth and tomatoes just to boil in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, leeks and garlic. Cover skillet and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Mix in cooked orzo, basil, vinegar, tomatoes and broth. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Toss in walnuts or pine nuts, if using.
  7. Mound stuffing inside the squash or green peppers, or pour into the prepared baking dish. (You may have extra pilaf that doesn’t fit in the veggies, bake this in the baking dish and use another day – on top of salad greens or as a cold salad for lunch!).
  8. Bake pilaf until heated through, about 30-40 minutes. Serve hot.
**OVEN-DRIED TOMATOES: Preheat oven to lowest setting (150-200°F).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut 10 plum/Roma tomatoes in half and arrange, cut side up on pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake tomatoes until the edges are shriveled, 3-6 hours. Use tomatoes immediately for the above recipe; any unused tomatoes should be placed in a sterilized jar then filled with olive oil (and herbs and garlic too!). Store in fridge for 4-6 weeks. Use the olive oil after the tomatoes are all gone, delicious for salad dressings!

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