Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that you can cook and serve in much the same way you do rice. That is, you can boil it until the liquid is absorbed, cook it risotto-style. And, because it is pasta, you can also cook it via the traditional pasta method where you drain away the excess cooking liquid after it is done. Like other kinds of pasta (and rice), you can serve it hot or cold, as a side dish, and as a component in casseroles, soups, and salads. Orzo usually comes in a basic pale yellow color, but it is also available in a tricolor variety that is commonly used in rotini and other pasta types. Orzo is not a type of grain. It is a form of pasta, which means it is made from wheat. So if you follow a gluten-free diet, then orzo is not for you.
Orzo is a wonderful ingredient to use in salads, and it functions equally well as rice or pasta would. Just be sure to rinse it, drain well, toss it in olive oil to keep it from clumping, and chill thoroughly before adding it to your salad. We love to make a simple Orzo Cold Pasta with speck, red paprika and mayonnaise. It serves as such delicious office or a picnic meal that my husband even loves to make it in advance and pack together with his suitcase as a travel meal.
With the summer heat upon us, nothing cools the day like this easy and delicious, family friendly dish.
- 200g Orzo Pasta
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 red paprika
- 120g speck
- 2tsp mayonnaise
- micro greens
- black pepper
1. Cooking the Orzo using the Risotto method: Risotto is made by sautéing uncooked rice (specifically, a starchy, short-grain type of rice like arborio), in oil, along with some onions and other aromatics, and then cooking it by adding a hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously until each ladleful of liquid is completely absorbed before adding the next. Which is exactly how you would prepare orzo using the risotto method. The risotto method coaxes out the starches in the orzo, making it creamy and velvety. In some cooking circles, the result of this cooking method is called “orzotto”.
2. Once the orzo is cooked, let it cool completely.
3. Cut the red paprika into small pieces.
4. Bake the speck in a hot pan until golden brown.
5. Mix the mayonnaise, paprika, speck together with the orzo. Season additionally with salt and ground black pepper.
6. Serve as cold pasta with micro greens.