Nov 6
2013

Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Pears & Humboldt Fog Cheese Recipe

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Whole wheat orzo pasta and sweet grilled pears pair with a creamy Humboldt Fog goat cheese and crunchy pistachios in this recipe adapted from the new cookbook, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.
Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Pears & Humboldt Fog Cheese Recipe | cookincanuck.com #pasta

My family has this thing about mac ‘n cheese. It didn’t start out well. When my dad was at university, he had two roommates. They decided, between the three of them, that they would take turns cooking for each other. My dad and his friend, Brian, managed to put together decent meals each time their turn at the stove rolled around. Roommate number three, however, had different ideas. Every time he was the chef of the night, he whipped up a large batch of mac ‘n cheese. Fluorescent yellow Kraft mac ‘n cheese. Every third night…for a year.

My dad claims that was the reason they booted roommate number three from the apartment, but I suspect it had to do with the fact that he came home to find this no-good roommate in bed with the French professor, with said professor wearing my dad’s shirt. Yeah, that went over well.

As a result, I never once ate Kraft mac ‘n cheese, or any other version, while growing up. So, when Stephanie Stiavetti of The Culinary Life and Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic sent me a copy of their gorgeous new book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I had to pry open my very closed pasta mind.

"Melt" by Stephanie Stiavetti & Garrett McCord | cookincanuck.com

I know what you’re thinking…”How could someone possibly fill an entire book with macaroni and cheese recipes?” This book goes so far beyond any standard recipes. Stephanie and Garrett explore artisanal cheeses (a dream for a cheese lover like me) and how they pair with both pasta and other ingredients in stovetop dishes, casseroles, salads and desserts.

Recipes such as Asparagus Salad with Ricotta Salata, Fava Beans, Mint and Farfalle and Roquefort Macaroni with Beets, Shallots and Poppy Seeds make me yearn to cook my way through this book, page by page, tasting new-to-me cheeses and using familiar ones in new ways. This is a book that I would put on my holiday wish list, or buy for a cheese-loving friend or relative in a heartbeat.

And as in any book that Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites photographs, the images are beautiful and enticing.

To celebrate the official release of Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, Stephanie and Garrett are giving away a $500 set of Le Creuset cookware and a $100 gift certificate for Murray’s Cheese. Head to The Culinary Life for the details (no purchase is necessary).

My variation:

The recipe in Melt is called Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo, but I took a few liberties, considering the season and my penchant for cutting fat and calories. That being said, the original recipe is one that I will definitely be trying next summer. Peaches and mint are a killer combination!

To me, the sign of a really good cookbook is one that inspires with flavor combinations and methods, but contains recipes that are flexible enough for readers to make adaptations according to their own taste buds or needs. This book definitely does all of that!

Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Pears & Humboldt Fog Cheese Recipe | cookincanuck.com #pasta

Pears are a heck of a lot more abundant right now than peaches, so I made the fruity swap. And since I wasn’t as keen on the pear-mint combination, I swapped in fresh basil instead. As for the calories, I made a few simple changes. First the regular orzo switched to the whole wheat variety. The Delallo Whole Wheat Orzo is my favorite. Then I cut back on the amount of Humboldt Fog cheese and reduced the amount of honey (agave nectar) and olive oil in the dressing.

The result? My husband and I fell in love with this pasta. The sweet pears balanced beautifully with the creamy and salty cheese, and the crunch of the pistachios.

If you are unfamiliar with Humboldt Fog, it is a cheese made by Cypress Grove. They have a store locator on their site so that you can find the closest retailer. I typically find it at Whole Foods or higher-end local grocery store. It is a creamy goat cheese with a slight herbal flavor. The line in the middle is not blue cheese, but rather a vegetable-based ash. It is one of my all-time favorite cheeses.

The recipe:

Cut the pears into quarters and remove the core. Place the pears in a ziploc bag, along with the honey (or agave nectar), balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt. Massage gently to coat the pears. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Pears & Humboldt Fog Cheese Recipe | cookincanuck.com #pasta

While the pears marinate, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Once the pears are done marinating, reserve the marinade and place the pear quarters on a hot, well-oiled grill or grill pan, cut-side down.

Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Pears & Humboldt Fog Cheese Recipe

Cook until the pears are just tender and have some grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Roughly chop the pears.

In a large bowl, combine the pears, reserved marinade, orzo, pistachios and pepper.

Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Pears & Humboldt Fog Cheese Recipe | cookincanuck.com #pasta

Add the Humboldt Fog cheese and basil and lightly toss. Don’t toss too much or the cheese will begin to melt. Serve.

Other whole wheat (or gluten-free) pasta recipes:

Fantastic Whole Wheat Pasta Recipes | cookincanuck.com #pasta
Cookin’ Canuck’s Roasted Tomato & Chicken Sausage Whole Wheat Pasta
Cookin’ Canuck’s Healthy Lasagne with Turkey, Pesto & Peppers
Skinnytaste’s Cajun Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side
Glow Kitchen’s Kale & Sun-Dried Tomato Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Full Fork Ahead’s Mushroom Bolognese

Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Pears & Humboldt Fog Cheese Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. www.cookincanuck.com
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 Anjou or Barlett pears
  • 2 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 10 oz. whole wheat orzo pasta
  • ⅓ cup chopped pistachios
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ oz. Humboldt Fog cheese, rind removed & cheese crumbled
  • 8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Cut the pears into quarters and remove the core. Place the pears in a ziploc bag, along with the honey (or agave nectar), balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt. Massage gently to coat the pears. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  2. While the pears marinate, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  3. Once the pears are done marinating, reserve the marinade and place the pear quarters on a hot, well-oiled grill or grill pan, cut-side down. Cook until the pears are just tender and have some grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Roughly chop the pears.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the pears, reserved marinade, orzo, pistachios and pepper.
  5. Add the Humboldt Fog cheese and basil and lightly toss. Don't toss to much or the cheese will begin to melt. Serve.
Notes
Calories 316.0 / Total Fat 10.9g / Saturated Fat 2.5g / Cholesterol 8.3mg / Sodium 320.6mg / Total Carbohydrates 46.1g / Fiber 7.1g / Sugars 8.3g / Protein 9.0g / WW (Old Points) 6 / WW (Points+) 8
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 316 cal Fat: Total Fat 10.9g / Saturated Fat 2.5g

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kelley November 6, 2013 at 7:53 am

Absolutely gorgeous, Dara! I’m always impressed how you can take a recipe and tweak it just enough to fit your dietary needs while still maintaing the integrity of the original recipe. This would be a huge hit in my house!

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2 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) November 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

Thank you, Kelley! I was amazed at how much flavor the Humboldt Fog cheese gives, even in a smaller portion. It was great with the sweet pears.

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3 DeLallo Foods November 6, 2013 at 8:38 am

Love the recipe—looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for the mention! :)

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4 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) November 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

Anytime. Delallo products are staples in my fridge and pantry.

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5 Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

Gorgeous dish, I love the flavors and grilled pears!

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6 Crystal @ Simply Playful Fare November 6, 2013 at 11:07 am

I just recently had orzo for the first time a few months ago, and I really liked it. I’m glad to know there is a whole wheat version. This looks really good! Tons of variety.

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7 Kirsten November 6, 2013 at 11:09 am

Dara,
I picked up Humboldt Fog and tried this recipe with figs recently, which was tasty, but the other day I got a bag of pears from a guy with a prolific tree (that was a timely coincidence, to be walking my 3 dogs when he was in the backyard looking at all the pears that had dropped while his dog barked with my dogs) so I’m going to try your pear version.
I’ve made 3 recipes so far from Melt and loved each one.
And yes, we’ll all try it again in the summer with peaches!

Thanks!

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8 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar November 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

This meal is straight up fancy! LOVE the ingredients in here Dara! It’s the perfect fall dish :)

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9 Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective November 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm

This sounds delicious, Dara! I love their orzo, too! :)

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10 Tieghan November 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm

So pretty, Dara! I love how you tweaked this to make it healthier for you and your family! You are so good at that!

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11 Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg November 7, 2013 at 7:24 am

This looks so good! This is the first time I’ve heard of Humboldt Fog cheese and now I must try it. I might even be able to get my Mr. to eat whole wheat pasta. Win win! Pinning!

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12 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic November 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I love mac and cheese, but would also like your orzo version – especially with humboldt fog! I kinda want to go to Whole Foods soon just to get it.

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13 Stephanie November 8, 2013 at 2:01 am

Thank you so much, Dara! I will have to give your version a try. It sounds DIVINE. :)

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14 Bev @ Bev Cooks November 8, 2013 at 7:26 am

Good heavens almighty. Yes.

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15 garrett November 8, 2013 at 10:46 am

Thank you so much! So glad you love the cookbook and adoring the use of fall fruit!

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16 Kelsey November 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Anything Humboldt Fog is a winner in my book. Pears and orzo just take this over the edge. What a brilliant adaptation!

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