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Learn more about this versatile rice-shaped pasta

Pasta that looks like rice? That’s exactly what orzo is. Some call it a pastina and it is typical in the Mediterranean diet. The name literally translates to ‘barley’, but this might cause some confusion as orzo is made of wheat, not barley.

In shape, it looks like rice and that’s not the only thing they share. Tiny as it is, it is a highly versatile and adaptable ingredient and can stand on its own on an orzo-based main dish or it can be well integrated in a delicious side-dish.

Going from a whole-wheat grain to a tricolor version, orzo is the perfect option for filling dishes. If you’re not so familiar with this ingredient, here we have several recipes you can try out after you get a packet of this amazing ingredient: https://riceselect.com/product/orzo

Cooking considerations

As this is pasta, just ten minutes in boiling water will do the trick. Now, contrary to rice, which uses double the water for every cup of rice, orzo just needs a cup of water for every cup of orzo. Don’t forget to salt the water to enhance the flavor and cook uncovered for at least eight minutes, depending on how you like your pasta!

Recipes you can try

The fact that orzo is pasta, but it resembles rice naturally brings up the following question: which kind of recipes does orzo go well with? And the answer is quite simple: everything! Now, as it shares some similarities with rice, orzo is great for salads and risotto-like dishes, even soups.

That doesn’t mean you can’t try orzo with a typical pasta sauce and some bread on the side of your flavor-packed main dish. But you’ll find a better way through recipes in which orzo is just one of the many necessary ingredients.

Now, here’s a list of recipes you can try out. Check them out and let us know what you think!

Orzotto

Coming from the word ‘risotto’, here’s a version of the traditional Spanish dish with orzo instead of rice. Consider taking out the meat ingredients if you’re vegan or vegetarian!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 2 cups of orzo.
  • 4 cups vegetable broth.
  • 1 onion.
  • Pancetta (usual bacon will do the trick as well).
  • 3 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 cups of peas.
  • Basil leaves.
  • Cheese (preferably Parmesan)
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.

Preparation:

  1. Start by browning the previously diced pancetta. Pre-heat a frying pan and pour some extra virgin olive oil. Fry the pancetta and, once browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Using the same frying pan, now take the previously sliced onion and sprinkle some salt. Cook until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and fry everything for five more minutes.
  4. Take the heat to medium and pour two cups of orzo. Fry for a minute and add the vegetable broth.
  5. Mix and integrate and bring to a boil. Once it boils, take the heat down to a simmer. 
  6. Now, add the peas and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Let everything cook for about ten minutes or until the orzo is fully done and the liquid, absorbed.
  8. Once everything is done, bring back the fried pancetta and sprinkle as much cheese as you like.
  9. Garnish with some fresh basil and serve!

Orzo salad

Here’s a classic salad you can try on a hot summer day. Notice the quantities are not included as you should use the vegetables and the amounts you like and deem necessary.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ cups of orzo pasta.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Artichoke hearts.
  • Spinach.
  • Green onions.
  • Feta cheese.
  • Olive oil.
  • Lemon juice.
  • Lemon zest.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.

Preparation:

  1. Start by preparing the orzo according to the instructions. As this is a salad, you’re recommended not to over cook it. That way it will stay better if there’s any leftovers. Let it cool down.
  2. As this is a salad, the procedure is quite simple: chop the tomatoes, the spinach, the green onion and the artichoke hearts and place all that together in a big bowl.
  3. Dice up the feta cheese (or any cheese you like) and include it to the mix.
  4. Chop as much feta cheese as you want and add it to the mix.
  5. In a separate small bowl, mix some olive oil with lemon juice and lemon zest. Include some chia seeds if you like them and pour the dressing all over the salad.
  6. Season with some salt and take the bowl to the fridge twenty minutes before serving.

Orzo stuffed boats

Try this recipe with any vegetable that can be stuffed and elevate the culinary experience! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of orzo.
  • 5  zucchinis.
  • Olive oil.
  • 1 carrot.
  • Chopped green onions.
  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 tbsp of mustard.
  • Basil leaves.
  • Salt.
  • Black pepper.
  • Cheese.

Instructions:

  1. Cook the orzo and set aside so that it cools down.
  2. Wash and cook the zucchinis for five minutes so that they get tender.
  3. Place them over a roaster half them and scoop out all the inside, but do not discard that.
  4. Preheat a skillet with some olive oil and chop up the vegetables. Cook them all together and include the center of the zucchinis.
  5. Mix the orzo with the vegetables in a big bowl and mix all together.
  6. Season the mix and add the mustard.
  7. Stuff the zucchinis and top them with the cheese of your preference.
  8. Take them to the oven for a couple of minutes and garnish with the basil leaves. Enjoy!

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