Vegan Red, White and Green Orzo (Quick and Easy!)

Yield: 4 servings

My fellow teacher friend, Betsy Morris, is married to a farmer in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach. At various times throughout the year, she will generously bring a basket full of fresh produce to school to share with our faculty and staff. This week, she gifted us with beautiful thin asparagus, my favorite kind. I whipped up this quick and tasty dinner when I returned home from seeing our school’s wonderful production of “Guys and Dolls.” I was ravenous, but it was late, so this light dinner did the trick. Basil would be delicious in this dish, but it’s not quite fresh basil season in our area.

3 cups generously salted water
1 cup orzo
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, and cut into1-inch pieces
1 cup grape tomato halves
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped smoked almonds

In a medium-large pot, bring water to a boil. Stir in orzo, cover loosely, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Meanwhile, in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add asparagus and saute until lightly browned on some surfaces. Add tomatoes and just heat through. Add drained pasta, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and heat through. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl or individual serving bowls. Top with smoked almonds. (You might want to pass the smoked almonds separately for each person to sprinkle onto his or her serving which, in case there are leftovers, will prevent the almonds from becoming soft.)

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