When wife Jan went off to Burning Man I wanted to give her some quick, easy, and filling camp foods. Two conditions were that it would cook in a short time and not produce any waste water—throwing old pasta water onto the playa was strictly forbidden. I had settled on the idea of making “box” dishes—like RiceARoni®. A spice packet, pre-measured and mixed ingredients that you just add water to and simmer. My za’atar orzo was very popular with her camp.
Daughter Eilene is going camping with her friends this week and asked for some of this dish for herself and her nine friends. I, of course, could not make it the same way, so I added new things to the recipe. I switched to almonds—instead of pine nuts—and added dried spinach—an ingredient that I had used for another one of my camp foods.
Karl’s Za’atar Orzo with Spinach and Almonds
Note: While I am creating a meal for 10 people, the recipe below is for one portion that would feed four people—as being a more useful quantity for anyone going on a family camping trip. The recipe is easily scalable for serving more people.
1 cup orzo
1/3 cup sliced almonds
¼ cup dried spinach
1 Tbs. za’atar
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. white pepper, ground
2 Tbs. olive oil or butter
1. For each portion (1⅔ cup) of bag 1, use 1¾ cups of water, one spice packet, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter.
Note: For daughter Eilene I am giving her a bag with 2½ portions.
2. Put the water, bouillon, and oil in a pot—large enough for the amount you are cooking—and bring it to a boil.
3. Stir in the orzo mix.
Tip: Shake the bag before measuring out a portion. The spices may have settled to the bottom of the bag.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes.
Tip: Stir and scrap the bottom of the pot every two minutes. If it seems a bit too dry add more water a quarter cup at a time. The final dish should be a bit wet, but not a soup.
Note: If you wish to make this a main dish, you may add cooked chicken or fresh vegetables at this point.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and cover the pot.
6. Let the orzo steam for another 4-5 minutes.
7. Fluff and serve warm.