For this recipe, we’re taking you on a trip to the Italian coast. (Are you in??) No bags, passports, or carry-on-sized liquids required, because we’re transporting you from the comfort of your very own kitchen. This Italian-inspired dish is light, bright, and deeply satisfying. There’s Tuscan-spiced grilling cheese and a lemony salad of yellow squash ribbons tossed with basil and tomato, all sitting atop a bed of orzo. Now all you need is some gelato...
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Tuscan Heat Spice
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Wash and dry all produce. Zest and quarter lemon (quarter both lemons for 4 servings). Dice tomato. Pick basil leaves from stems; discard stems and thinly slice leaves.
Once water is boiling, add half the orzo (all for 4 servings) and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Drain and set aside. Return empty pot to stove.
Meanwhile, trim ends from yellow squash. Using a peeler, shave squash lengthwise into thin ribbons, rotating as you go. Stop once you get to the seedy core; finely chop core. In a medium bowl, toss squash ribbons with tomato, half the basil, half the lemon zest, juice from 1 lemon wedge (2 wedges for 4 servings), and a large drizzle of olive oil; season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in pot used for orzo over medium-high heat. Add squash core, half the Tuscan Heat Spice, salt (we used ½ tsp; use 1 tsp for 4 servings), and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in cooked orzo, remaining lemon zest and basil, and juice from 1 lemon wedge (2 wedges for 4). Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Slice grilling cheese into 4 equalsized pieces (8 pieces for 4 servings). Place remaining Tuscan Heat Spice on a plate. Press cheese into spice blend to evenly coat all over. Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large, preferably nonstick, pan over medium-high heat. Add grilling cheese and cook until browned, 1-2 minutes per side.
Divide orzo between plates. Top with grilling cheese and squash salad. Serve with any remaining lemon wedges on the side.