11 March 2013

Autumn Veggies with Chickpea Studded Orzo

The Bests have left (though not before coming to see me teach this morning). Since their departure is sad, tonight's new dinner success was a nice emotional balance. I've been trying to cook this dinner for a while, but I'd been running up against a missing-ingredient wall called "celery root" (aka celeriac). I think my issue was two-fold. First, I started trying to look for celery root late in its season. It's generally a late autumn/winter veggie, but I started looking in February. Second, our local grocery stores don't have the widest selections of unique veggies. Although they are pretty good (kale, snow peas, parsnips, etc. are all regularly found), something that most Americans do not cook is not likely to find its way to a produce section near me. Luckily, our trip to Jungle Jim's this weekend with The Bests yielded a gnarly-looking tuber.

This meal was series of new things for us. First, the celery root, obviously. Second, the use of herbes de Provence, a seasoning blend we don't use with regularity. Third, we used orzo pasta in something other than soup. Certainly all of these things are normative for many cooks and eaters, but not for us. In Shana's mind, celery root = celery (i.e., gross), herbes de Provence has rosemary (a no go for her), and orzo is only for soup. With all that going against it, this meal was delicious! It was a lovely blend of textures and flavors and something we'll certainly make again!

Autumn Veggies with Chickpea Studded Orzo
This recipe is a very subtle variation from a recipe in the October 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times.

20 oz. fingerling potatoes, halved
1 small head cauliflower, in 1 inch florets
2 med. onions, sliced thickly
1 celery root (large), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. herbes de Provence
1 tsp. sea salt
4 T. olive oil
10 oz. fresh spinach
1 1/2 c. uncooked orzo
1, 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 415 degrees (or so) and spray a large baking sheet with oil.
1. Combine potatoes, cauliflower, onions, celery root, garlic, herbes de Provence, salt, and olive oil in large bowl, toss to combine.
2. Pour veggie mixture on to baking sheet and roast 50 minutes, stirring veggies every 15-20 minutes.
3. In the last 20 minutes of roasting, boil water and cook orzo per package directions. In the last three minutes of cooking, add the chickpeas.
4. In the last 4-5 minutes of roasting, spread the spinach over the roasting veggies and return to the oven.
5. Drizzle the orzo/chickpeas with a little bit of olive oil and stir the the spinach into the veggies.
6. Put orzo/chickpeas on plate then layer veggies on top. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.

Photo by David Lebovitz
Helpful Hints
  • In case you're unsure, this is what celery root looks like. If you can't find it, 3-4 stalks of celery will work wonderfully.
  • Too much balsamic will easily overpower the other flavors in this dish. If you have a way to spritz it (we don't), I'd do that. 
  • You'll likely want to have a bit of salt and pepper out so that everyone can season their own plates.
  • We used tri-colored fingerling potatoes and tri-color orzo, which added some nice color to the dish (aside from the spinach). Those aren't necessary, but they do look nice if you want to serve this to a dinner party. 
  • The original recipe also called for fennel bulbs, which we don't like, and finely chopped fresh parsley in the orzo. We didn't do either, but feel free to add them. 
  • My guess is that this would be nice with other veggies, too (maybe parsnips or carrots?).
The post "Autumn Veggies with Chickpea Studded Orzo" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.


  1. I want to do this. Bookmarking page!

    1. So good! The trick is finding a celery root around here...