the appetizer:

Enjoy classic restaurant favorites from the Tavern on the Green by Kay LeRoy and Jennifer Oz LeRoy, with recipes like Black Pepper Orzo with Lamb Sausage, Feta, and Mint; Tuna Tartare on Ruffled Chips; and Smoked Chicken, Wild Rice and Apricot Salad


Black Pepper Orzo


Black Pepper Orzo
with Lamb Sausage,
Feta, and Mint

Serves 8


Because this main-course pasta dish is so easy to make, it's ideal for an impromptu celebration. It also makes a lovely side dish for six if you omit the sausage.

If you find pre-cooked lamb sausages, by all means substitute them for the fresh sausages called for below. Omit the precooking step and simply slice them as described.

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds lamb sausage, or lamb-and-beef sausage (merguez)
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional as needed
  • 14 ounces French or Greek feta cheese, crumbled (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • Finely grated zest of 2 scrubbed lemons
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Put a large pot of water on to boil, for the orzo.

In a large skillet or saute pan, combine the sausages with 1/2 cup water and place over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, turning occasionally, until all the water has evaporated and the sausages start to brown, about 12 minutes.

Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes more (depending on the thickness of the sausage), until the sausages are firm and deep golden brown all over (regulate the heat so the sausages sizzle but don't burn, and add a few drops of oil if necessary).

Cool slightly and slice about 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal. Transfer to a large serving platter and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt to the pasta water and add the orzo. Cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then drain again, shaking the colander gently.

Transfer the orzo to the platter with the sausage and drizzle with the 1/3 cup oil; mix well to stop the pasta from sticking. Let stand for at least 10 and up to 20 minutes.

Add the feta, about two thirds of the lemon zest, and about two thirds of the mint to the pasta; season quite generously with black pepper. Fold together gently, then drizzle with a little more olive oil, if desired, and scatter with the remaining lemon zest and mint. Place on a buffet or serve.

  • from:
    Tavern on the Green
  • by Kay LeRoy and Jennifer Oz LeRoy
  • Artisan 2009
  • 310 pages; Hardback; $35.00 (US) $39.95 (CAN)
  • ISBN-10: 157965357X
  • ISBN-13: 9781579653576
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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