There are only a few food personalities I can think of who are loved by both my grown-up friends and my teenage children…
And right at the top of that short list is Molly Baz, author of Cook This Book. Baz has won over fans with her bold cooking style and bold…just….style. She’s always clad in one of her primary-colored crossback aprons, abbreviating every other word (smoothies are “smoos”; Caesar salad, her signature, is “Cae Sal”); and her game-for-anything dachshund Tuna (“Toonz”) makes frequent, adorable appearances across all her platforms. Most important, as my 17-year-old said after watching a video of Molly making “adult Mac and Cheese” last year, “She knows everyone wants to eat food that’s like kids’ food times a thousand.”
I know exactly what she means. Molly’s book is filled with the kind of dishes that you’d be psyched to eat — simple and indulgent, elevated and unpretentious. Think about one of these set before you: Clams on Toast with Bacon and Old Bay Mayo, Overripe Tomato Soup with Bread Soup with Crispy Garlic, Saucy Eggs all’Amatriciana, or Blueberry Cornflake Crisp. You should’ve seen how hard it was to pick just one recipe as an example, but this simple, indulgent, flavor-forward Orzo al Limone tells the whole story.
Orzo al Limone
From Molly: Spaghetti al limone — a classic and supremely simple Italian pasta dish composed of lemon juice, butter, and Parmesan — gets a fresh take, featuring orzo instead of the spaghetti, which results in a dish that’s somewhere between risotto and macaroni and cheese, and I think it’s pretty special. The name of the game here is to avoid overcooking the orzo; leave it slightly al dente so that it doesn’t turn into a big pot of mush.
1 medium yellow onion
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about ¾ cup), plus more for serving
1 cup orzo
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Prep your aromatics: Finely chop 1 yellow onion. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 3 (3-inch-long) strips of lemon zest from 1 lemon; set the lemon aside.
Start the orzo: In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat until melted and foamy. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not yet browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1 cup orzo, the 3 strips of lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon black pepper and toast, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the water comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally so the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, until most of the water has been absorbed (there should still be some liquid at the bottom of the pot), 6 to 8 minutes. Taste the orzo; it should be al dente but not crunchy.
Finish the orzo: Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 2½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (¾ cup). Finely grate the remaining zest of the lemon into the pot. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of both halves into the orzo. Taste and add more salt as needed. Add a few more tablespoons of water, if needed, until it’s very creamy and loose.
Serve: Drizzle the orzo with olive oil and season with black pepper and more grated Parmesan
(Photos by PEDEN+MUNK.)