Alright – so why are the pine nuts witty? Because they are a sort of culinary witticism – a sort of mildly bigger version, visually, of the orzo.

The orzo, by the way, needs to be the Italian pasta which looks a bit like rice – ‘orzo’ also means barley in Italian. If you can’t find orzo, you could use the Greek version, kritharaki. Or you could use mini maloreddus – a sort of Sardinian pasta.

The sage brings out the taste of the sausage; the lemon verbena is perfect with the artichokes. And the mix of the two herbs is very surprisingly successful.

 

Recipe for sausage and artichoke orzo with witty pine nuts

For two with a generous green salad with some pitted black olives dotted about in it.

Ingredients

  • 150g/5 oz/¾ cup orzo pasta
  • 150g/5 oz continental garlic sausage, or a couple (three even) of tasty British sausages
  • 2 tbsps pine nuts
  • 280g/10 oz gross weight jar of artichoke hearts, ideally in olive oil
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • ½ tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 4 tbsps/¼ cup of olive oil
  • Smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • A few leaves of sage…and if you can find it, or if you grow it, lemon verbena

Method

  1. Boil a kettle, pour the water into a saucepan, add some salt, get it boiling, add the orzo pasta and simmer for 7 minutes (or check what it says on the packet).
  2. In a medium frying pan dry fry the pine nuts and then set them aside.
  3. Cut the sausage into bite sized
  4. In the same pan fry the sausage (using a little of the oil from the artichokes). About five minutes into the cooking add the artichoke hearts.
  5. Cut the tomatoes in half and add to the pan.
  6. Snip in most of the herbs.
  7. Fry until the hearts are a little golden and the sausage is cooked through.
  8. Meanwhile make the dressing by mixing, in a small bowl, the olive oil, the vinegar, the lemon zest and juice, and the seasoning.
  9. Drain the orzo, return to the saucepan. Add the contents of the frying pan, mix in. Stir in the dressing.
  10. Serve, garnished with the remaining herbs and a few more grinds of black pepper.