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Orzo Casserole

I can claim no credit for this recipe. It is my mother’s creation. My mom would make this of family gatherings and it was also the most popular side dish available. It was devoured at a myriad of Johnston family hootenannies and Jordan family reunions, beloved by both my father’s side of the family and my mother’s side as well. 

Funnily enough, my mother only made this for big family gatherings; this was not a recipe that found its way into weeknight rotation or even nuclear family cookouts or special events. No, this recipe only made an appearance when grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts would be in attendance. For that reason, this dish holds a lot of special memories for me and eating it triggers such nostalgia that I almost feel like a child again in the midst of a great big family shindig.

It’s a fairly simple recipe to make, but perfectly cheesy and spicy and comforting. It is easy to make a big batch, too; great with you need to feed a horde of hungry relatives. Now that I have pried this recipe from my mother, though, I make it for no reason at all, because it is delicious and because the smell of it cooking brings back fun memories. I hope it becomes something special for you, too.

2 teaspoons salt
1 16 ounce package  orzo 
1 diced red bell pepper
1 small can of diced green chilies, drained
1 cup Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 450. Butter a 8 by 8 pan generously. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the salt and orzo and cook 10 minutes, or until al dente.

Put the cooked orzo into your buttered pan with peppers, chilies, and Jack cheese. Spread sour cream on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then dot with butter.  Place on upper rack in your oven and bake for 15 minutes until bubbling hot.  Enjoy!


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