Baked orzo with sage pesto: $1.04/serving

If you’re like many gardeners this time of year, you probably have (or have access to) a large, lush, healthy bush of sage…waiting for October or November. Sage is usually considered a fall herb, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Combined with a little mint, parsley, and/or basil to offset its medicinal taste, sage makes an unexpected, light, summery pesto. It’s great by itself on pasta, but even better in this baked orzo dish that comes together quickly and makes enough servings to last through the week, for lunches or emergency dinners on days it gets too hot.

As below it makes a solid 6 servings, and is possibly even better the next day.

For the pesto:
• 1/4 cup parsley or basil leaves (garden): $0
• 1/4 cup mint leaves (garden): $0
• 1 cup tightly packed sage leaves (garden): $0
• 2 garlic cloves (we’re still using the bounty harvested from our neighbor’s yard): $0
• 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted: $1
• 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided: $1.50
• 1/2 cup olive oil: 48 cents
• 1 tsp lemon zest plus 2 T lemon juice: 50 cents
For the pasta bake:
• 1 lb. orzo: $1.39
• 1 cup grated mozzarella: $1
• 1 onion, chopped: 20 cents
• 1 T oil: 3 cents
• Salt and pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $6.22/6 = $1.04

Combine the parsley, mint, sage, garlic, walnuts, 1/2 cup Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, and a pinch of salt in a blender or small food processor.

Process until combined. Slowly add the olive oil, processing all the while, until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 F and grease a 13×9 Pyrex dish.

Cook the orzo in boiling salted water for exactly 7 minutes. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Set aside.

Heat the 1 T oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until well softened and starting to brown, 6-10 minutes.

Return the orzo to the cooking pot and stir in the pesto, onions and mozzarella. Turn out into the Pyrex dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.

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