Tomatoes are, apparently, very controversial things.

Joanne. Psst. You are supposed to be writing about strawberries.

Yeah, I know. Give me a second.

Imagine 17 of my closest friends at dinner. For my birthday. (I’m a little bit late with this story, I know. I’m backlogged on interesting things from my life to tell you about. Or boring things from my life that I’m making interesting by exaggerating to the point of ridiculousness. You be the judge.)

Imagine that some of these people had pregamed for dinner. (Yes. In med school, we pregame things like eating French food. I use the term “we” loosely. I pregame for nothing. I also use the term “nothing” loosely.)

And do you know what happens when you pregame for dinner? You find tomatoes to be absolutely intriguing. Enigmatic. Incomprehensible.

“But is it a fruit or a vegetable?”

Fruit. Easy. It has seeds. We’ve known this since…second grade or so.

“But what about cucumbers. Or avocadoes. Or (and here’s the point at which I started really listening) pumpkins.”

This is where things started to get interesting. Smart phone use spread like wildfire up and down the table. (Really. You can’t take them anywhere.)

Finally. Someone. I think it was Adam. Found an answer.

A fruit, according to Wikipedia, is the ripened ovary (seeds included!) of a flowering plant. (Talk about timing. Do you want to guess which part of the anatomy we are studying right now in class? And for the record, 23-year-old boys giggle at the word genitalia just as must as 7-year-olds do. They also think the word “sphincter” is hilarious. And let me tell you. There are a lot of sphincters in biology. Talk about disruptive.)

Cucumber? Fruit.

Pumpkin? Fruit.

Green beans? Fruit.

Bell peppers? Fruit.
And our little friend, the strawberry? What does it have to do with all of this? How did it get mixed up in all of this reproductive system confusion?

Well. I hate to tell you this.

But the strawberry is neither a fruit nor a vegetable.

You see. It’s seeds are on the outside. And so, botanically speaking, it is not derived from the plant’s ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries (the peritoneal cavity of the plant world).

Making it an accessory fruit.

A tragic case of identity crisis if ever I’ve seen one. It’s a good thing we didn’t actually come across this little tidbit of information at dinner. I don’t think the pregamers could have handled it.

A few weeks ago, Megan of Feasting On Art (one of the most innovative blogs out there) announced that for her one year blogiversary she was going to hold a recipe contest. Megan’s posts combine food and art by featuring paintings and the food creations that they have inspired. Her first post was centered around a still life by Renoir and so she decided that for her blogiversary it would be fun to feature another of his still life’s, this time the above painting which is entitled Strawberries. Not only that, but she challenged all of her readers to come up with dishes that were inspired by this as well!

When Megan told me about this challenge, I immediately knew I wanted to do a savory dish. Sure, strawberries are traditionally served as dessert, but as we learned above, convention is really just a figment of the imagination. I recalled from the recesses of my memory seeing a post by Natashya months and months ago about a strawberry pesto pasta salad that she had made. With this idea in hand, I decided to combine the pesto with an orzotto (kind of like a risotto but with orzo. The dish would work with arborio rice as well. Orzo just happens to be cheaper and I really like the texture.) As I was making the pesto, I decided to add in some cinnamon and balsamic vinegar to bring out the acidity and sweetness of the strawberries. All in all, a really tasty dish and one that will be perfect in the coming months when fresh and delicious strawberries will abound.
Strawberry Balsamic Pesto Orzotto
Serves 4

1/2 package of frozen strawberries (or about 2 cups of fresh strawberries…should you be lucky enough for them to be in season)
1/3 cup almonds
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
basil, to taste (I think I used about 1 cup)
2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
1 pinch of cinnamon
salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb orzo

1. Puree all of the ingredients up to (and not including) the chicken broth.

2. Heat the chicken broth until it is simmering.

3. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the orzo and saute for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the white wine to the pan. Stir. When it is almost all evaporated, add in 1/2 cup(-ish) of the chicken broth. Stir. When this has almost evaporated, add in another half cup. Rinse. Repeat.

4. When the orzo is cooked through, shut the heat and stir in the pesto. Salt to taste.

I am also submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted this week by the Savoury Specialist over at Our Taste of Life.

I would also like to thank Ruth, the creator of Presto Pasta Nights and author of the blog Once Upon A Feast for bestowing upon me the Happy 101 Award. Ruth’s was one of the first blogs that I ever read (even before I had one myself) and so to have her even mention my blog on her site is kind of like having a celebrity chef (Tyler Florence perhaps) tell you that your food tastes good. So thanks a bunch Ruth!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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82 Responses to Strawberry Balsamic Pesto Orzotto – Feasting On Art Recipe Contest

  1. Pam says:

    Joanne, this looks and sounds delicious! It’s a great combo of ingredients and perfect now that strawberries are so tempting this time of year. Thanks for visiting my blog! It’s nice to meet you and I will enjoy reading your future posts!

    Your photos are amazing! Very nice!

  2. Shannon says:

    you guys are hillarious ๐Ÿ™‚ what an innovative dish! i’m going to have to go and check out a new blog ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Nice and interesting dish joanne…loved the clicks..

  4. Pam says:

    Look’in good and Honey….you can talk about anything you like….he he! Always interesting to me! Yummy!


  5. Pam says:

    Wow, I learned a lot today!!!

  6. i had no idea it was neither a fruit or veggie… interesting! as always your dish looks delish ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. vickys says:

    This looks soooo yummy. I think the combination would be like a song on my tongue! Love all the upclose shots that just make me feel as if i’m eating it.

  8. Astra Libris says:

    I love the story of the tomato discussion… ๐Ÿ™‚ I had no idea that cucumbers were a fruit! SO wild!

    I’m in love with the idea of strawberry pesto! You. Are. Brilliant!

  9. SE says:

    lovely click…didn’t know the stuff about strawberry…interesting !

  10. Orzo is just so versatile. Thanks also for the botany lesson, I can just imagine a table full of young people whipping out their phones simultaneously.

  11. Debbi Smith says:

    So really! The ONE “vegetable” that my boys will eat is actually a fruit! Not that I thought that cukes were the best veggie but now to know they aren’t a veggie at all? Oh well.

    Delicious looking meal! I never would have come up with anything like it. Brilliant!

  12. Je suis toujours attirรฉe par les nouvelles saveurs, par ce qui sort de l’ordinaire.
    Une recette originale. Elle me plait.
    A bientรดt.

  13. Andreas says:

    Very innovative recipe.

    And yes, the sex life of strawberries lends itself well for passing away the time until your separation gel has finished. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. elra says:

    Sounds very confusing to me ha….ha… ha… anyway, strawberry is very photogenic, it show here.

  15. Sounds really interesting and good! Strawberries and balsamic are one of my all time favorite flavor combinations. Happy Monday ~LeslieMichele

  16. WHat a fantastic combination of flavors! Looks wonderful and delicious!

  17. Gulmohar says:

    Good write up :-)Flavorful and yummy..
    Great clicks ,Joanne

  18. theUngourmet says:

    Mmm I always look forward to fresh local strawberries. This is an interesting dish. I would love to give it a try!

  19. Deepa says:

    such a flavorful dish..fabulous..

  20. I love this creation! The strawberry & balsamic vinegar is a terrific combo! I have all of the ingredients to make it this week!

  21. Mari says:

    LOL I would have loved to be there for that convo lol…

    I think this dish would be a party in my mouth…so many flavors at once!

  22. Kris says:

    this one is so inspiring!

  23. Amy says:

    Forget about the strawberry for a minute…cucumber, pumpkin, green beans, and the bell pepper are all fruits? REALLY? Wow. I have the nerve to write a food blog. I had no idea.

    Now, back to the strawberry. I love it’s sweetness, but I also enjoy it in salads with spinach and blue cheese for a savory twist. I know I would enjoy this Orzotto dish.

    p.s. It seems like Trevor came out of the womb laughing at the words poop and fart, whereas Haley…not so much. Boys!

  24. Ruth Daniels says:

    Great post. Thanks for the information, although…I’m probably just going to store this knowledge for one of those important trivia moments…so I can look smart.

    Thanks for the sublime dish and sharing it with Presto Pasta Night.

    And thanks for the kind words.

  25. Yup, the fruit/veggie thing is a funny one. And our perceptions are different than other countries. My mother taught English in the Middle East in the 60s and said there were often cucumbers and zucchini in the fruit bowl.
    What a great idea for a challenge – and such a creative use of the strawberries! Delicious looking orzotto.

  26. Bob says:

    Huh, I didn’t know that so many things are fruits. I’m not sure I can accept strawberries as a savory thing. I’ll have to try it and find out!

  27. That is so clever…

    I am only a couple months from mine… Now I have to get considering…

    It is good to be old a crotchity… Strawberries are a fruit, don’t confuse me ya young whippersnapper ya

    So, Joanne, you seem to be the risotto queen… What do you think of replacing the white wine with mango rum??? add some diced mango and pineapple and have a tropical risotto. It’s on my list of things to cook. I have one friend thinks it will be awesome and my wife thinks I am going over the edge. Care to weigh in on the gentleman’s wager?

  28. Patty says:

    Aww poor little strawberry not fitting in with anybody! At least strawberries are very firmly in the “delicious” category ๐Ÿ˜‰ thanks for the recipe!

  29. Juliana says:

    Joanne, nice post ๐Ÿ™‚ This orzotto dish with strawberry sure looks so different and tasty…I always heard of strawberry and balsamic vinegar but never tried it…now I definitely should give a try…nice pictures!

  30. Erica says:

    I love cooking with orzo it is quick to cook and so versatile. That looks delicious.

  31. Mamatkamal says:

    Different but absolutely delicious! Great photos as usual.

  32. A very nice post Joanne:)Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Chris says:

    Hilarious! (Not only because you used the sphincter.) Although I’ll probably gag a bit the next time I find myself eating ripened plant ovaries. I can’t even drink milk because I get a visual of the source.

    Your blog is as entertaining as it is edumacational (that’s educational in TN)!

  34. Gosh u actually had me interested at contest …..can i send in an entry too?
    I so wanna win for a blogging pal as a birthday suprise actually :-))))in the US.
    Well i love how beautifully u brought out the savoury side of the strawberry and as am writing this ,a bowl full of strawberries sit in their won juice n sugar ,for breakfast :-))))

  35. grace says:

    i’ve certainly never had strawberries prepared quite like this, but i have no doubt i’d love it. the definition of fruit has really been warped in our minds, hasn’t it!

  36. tigerfish says:

    Strawberries with pasta? That is ART!

  37. You’re so creative! Strawberry pesto sounds divine! What a lovely and unique dish.

  38. Bridgett says:

    The flavor combination here is just amazing and something so unexpected, but I can imagine it is tasty. I love strawberries and they look so beautiful against the orzotto.

  39. The idea of paring art with food really piqued my interest and your recipe is a beautiful contribution, Joanne!

    Well done!

  40. Azita says:

    this sounds and looks so good! you’re so creative! beautiful photos.

  41. Cynthia says:

    Wow, what a creative dish! It sounds delish. The balsamic vinegar and cinnamon would definitely highlight the strawberries tartness and sweetness. Great recipe!

  42. Mary says:

    Did you surgically remove the seeds from that last strawberry? Or did you macerate it to an early death :-). I loved your post today and I’d eat strawberry pesto any old day. Especially if you made it. Have a great day…Mary

  43. Kathleen says:

    This is the most interesting recipe using strawberries I’ve ever seen. You really are wayyyy creative!

  44. Debinhawaii says:

    Looks delicious–love the combination of ingredients. I made some strawberry basil iced tea last summer and loved the combination so I imagine a pesto would be wonderful. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  45. Katerina says:

    Such an unusual combination. Boldness is what cooking needs sometimes. It looks very tempting.

  46. Not a fruit, not a veggie…so hard to deal with things that can’t be categorized! Just learned that peanuts are beans. What? The crazy world of food. You’ve made good use of those berries though!

  47. Caronae says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on my last post ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am so totally disturbed that strawberries are not a fruit! How can this be?? Bizarre. And since I hate tomatoes, I don’t really mind that they have such an identity crisis. Ha. Evil little things!
    Happy Tuesday my dear!
    xoxo Caronae

  48. Ken Albala says:

    But sphincter is a hilarious word. Drupe is almost as funny.

  49. Hannah says:

    I’m still not so sure how I feel about putting strawberries in a savory dish, but the pasta itself definitely looks delicious!

  50. I love your combo of ingredients here. The addition of strawberries is genius!! Love the “smart phone” comment…..I could just picture it. and the snickering over “genitalia!”

  51. ruchikacooks says:

    Photos are colorful as the recipe Joanne, true strawberry season is coming up and I am waiting to see more fresh use of berries in salads, pasta and whatever you come up with ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Jo- My event- The home remedies is finishing on the 31st of March. Hope you’ll send some entries..

  52. What a clever and delicious combination. You know me. I have to substitute for the orzo but I think, I should be able to do it.

    Thanks for linking this to Meatless Mondays.

  53. Pam says:

    What a fantastic combination of flavors. Great dish!

  54. Wow! Strawberries, almonds AND parmesan?! I’m so intrigued! It sounds ridiculously delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. Barbara says:

    Marvelous recipe, Joanne! And so unusual. I can’t wait to give it a try! I love turning normally sweet things into savories.
    Going to check out Feasting on Art.

  56. Jagruti says:

    Lovely post and innovative dish are great!!

  57. Mimi says:

    Sweet and savory. I love it!

  58. msmeanie says:

    Interesting use of the strawberries – I never thought about putting them in a savory dish. Your friends sound hilarious after a pregame session.

  59. I never knew cucumbers were fruits…yummy recipe. Can’t wait to try Joanne.

  60. sophia says:

    Strawberry and balsamic vinegar is so classic. I love the way you turned it into a savory, creamy dish.
    Green beans are a fruit? Who knew…

  61. Martha says:

    Strawberry is neither a fruit nor a vegetable? But green beans are a fruit? Yikes, I really am getting an education reading your blog! The recipe is so different and sounds totally delicious! ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. Catherine says:

    This looks great Joanne..I love the addition of the strawberries! I’ve never seen anything like it before, the creativity in this dish is just wonderful!
    Hugs & Blessings~

  63. Faith says:

    That sounds like such a fun challenge! Your risotto dish sounds like nothing short of phenomenal. I think strawberries and balsamic are the foods of the gods. ๐Ÿ™‚

  64. what the?? NOT a fruit? I feel like my whole existence has been a lie! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    looks incredible!

  65. Karine says:

    That is such an original recipe!

    I am sad for the strawberries. I can’t even identify themselves.

  66. Julie says:

    hahaha 23 year old girls giggle at the word genetalia too..i don’t even know how to spell that though..


  67. Jessie says:

    Ok, Joanne, I was feeling pretty comfortable with the identity of my produce before this, but now …

    At least your recipe looks mouth-watering ๐Ÿ˜‰ I only have one word for it: sphincters!

  68. Michelle says:

    WOW! What an interesting dish! But anything with strawberries and balsamic has to good!

  69. Cristie says:

    Great flavor combination and with risotto! Like Michelle, strawberries and balsamic are meant for each other.

  70. strawberries and balsamic! great combo!
    sorry about your injury! i was in your shoes last year at this time! plantar fascitis AND pfps AND torn groin. EPIC.


  71. I enjoy your writing but I am glad I was not invited to partake in that discussion or I am afraid I would have fallen asleep, head first on the plate; which is too bad because I really like what you did here! Very tasty , you brought the orzo to life, i think!

  72. Shirley says:

    I simply loved that info on strawberries. I had been researching on fruit and veggies too. Even chayote is fruit!

  73. Debbie says:

    No a fruit and not a vegetable…a delicious and interesting dish!

  74. Marisa says:

    Feasting on art is such a cool website! Great job on re-creating the painting.

  75. Graziana says:

    I’m amazed, I knew that strawberry seeds are outside, but I didn’t knew that this makes them a non-fruit!

  76. Muneeba says:

    My world is turning on its head … strawberry is NOT a fruit?!W. T. F. Ok, I’ll be fine .. just need a few minutes to adjust. Hmmmmmm, that pasta looks like it would do the trick, to get me back down to earth .. excellent choice Joanne!

  77. katiez says:

    Next time make them check their phones at the door – or better, have them google to determine at what age they stop giggling at sphincter? Now, that I really want to know!
    Green beans are fruit, eh. I’m eating a lot more fruit than previously thought. And we had our first strawberries this morning.

  78. This is one of the most interesting dishes I’ve ever seen!! I’m so very intrigued. And I was surprised to find out about strawberries!

  79. dessert girl says:

    Wow! I knew about tomatoes and avocadoes, but green beans and bell peppers??? Who knew??

    Love the recipe, too!

  80. Karen says:

    This sounds very interesting and I’d love to try it. I love balsamic with strawberries – they just seem to go together!

  81. Kerstin says:

    What a unique and tasty original recipe – I love it!!

  82. Wow I never would have thought all those are fruits and that strawberries aren’t! This recipe sounds so fresh and perfect for spring now that it’s finally showing itself :).

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