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Jan 14, 2008 12:09 PM

Need help with Orzo

I have already read a bunch of posts about cooking Orzo, and now I have even more questions. Some say to roast the orzo first because it gives a deeper, more complex flavor. If you do that would you adjust the cooking time? Others say to cook it and then toss into browned butter. Would that make it a bit crispy or just buttery. I know you do that with spaetzle, but I have never made orzo.

I am trying a few new ingredients this year, to broaden my DH's food repertoire! (That is a whole other thread!) I know that orzo sounds pretty lame, but he is very limited in what he eats, so I have to start off very slowly. He loves plain, buttered noodles (which I detest) so I thought this might be a good way to start. And please don't even think about giving me recipes that have "other" things in them! Maybe garlic, but he won't even eat parmesan cheese. Herbs are okay, but no cheeses, vegetables, or creamy sauces.


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  1. I make a salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, red onion, basil, parsley, dried cherries, roasted pinon nuts, and grape tomatoes. Its really refreshing and can be served room temperature.

    You can also make a tomato sauce for it and bake it. I would absolutely have to have cheese if nothing else! Has he tried fontina cheese, its super mild?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chef chicklet

      The only cheese he eats is under a pile of pepperoni, on a pizza! The salad sounds good, but he won't eat that, for sure!

    2. Orzo is just rice shaped pasta. You can cook it in lots of water like other pastas, and season it like them.

      Or you can toast it and cook it in just enough water. In Mexico and Spain they cook pasta like rice (or paella), usually a broken thin spagetti shape (fideo) but orzo would also work. Judging the amount of water and time is a bit trickier, but you can always add a bit more water if it goes dry before the pasta is tender.

      Don't forget, it can be used in soup, just like any other small pasta shape. Another option is to cook it with rice (like rice-a-roni). Another thought - buy a small ring shape pasta, and pass it off as spagetti-o's.


      1. What I do often is to saute the orzo with some butter until it starts to color. Add chicken broth or stock; bring to a boil, and turn down very low. Put a lid on the pot and cook for approximately 9-15 minutes, Check the pasta often near the end of the cooking, adding more broth if you need it. When the pasta is cooked, it should be pretty loose, a tiny bit soupy. Remove from heat, add fresh cracked pepper, fresh grated Locatelli cheese, and fresh basil. It's a delicous side dish.
        Cooking the orzo in the butter adds a nutty flavor and gives a bit of depth to the dish. You can also just saute in the butter, cook in the broth, and not add the basil and cheese, if you want something plain. Add some more butter when you take it off the heat, if you want, and season with pepper and salt if needed.
        Oops, just read he won't eat cheese. Well, try the recipe with the basil and leave the cheese out of his (you should try it).

        4 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            I think I am going to start out on the safe side here and just cook it in chicken stock, which I have some homemade in the freezer. I am out of fresh basil, but I have dried so I'll toss that in, and after I serve him I will sprinkle mine with Parmesan cheese! I'll try the "nutty flavor" method later. I need to take it slow - he is a crybaby! He will only eat about 2-3 teaspoons of couscous (what's not to like there?) before he pushes it away and says he's full. Of course an hour later he is munching on Cheez-its!

            Thanks for the info!

            1. re: danhole

              dani,, hope it works. orzo in broth is more comforting to eat than couscous, imo.

              1. re: alkapal

                Well, he liked it! I put the orzo into a pot of homemade chicken stock, with some dried basil that I had grown last summer. Brought it to a boil, lowered heat and covered. After about 9 minutes, I peaked and it was a bit too juicy, so I left the lid off and finished until it was tender. Stirred in a bit of butter, and served. At first he was suspicious, but after one bite he told me he really liked it. On mine I added some finely grated Cabot extra sharp white cheddar (out of parm) and it was very tasty! Now on to the next "new to him" dish.

        1. I started making orzo when I got an old Martha Steward cook book, called The Quick Cook, I think. She has a very easy recipe for orzo--basically, you saute some chopped onions in olive oil til golden brown, then add them to cooked orzo. You can add some different bell peppers to the onions for more color if you want. Add some salt & pepper to taste, garnish w/chopped parsley. Very easy and tasty!

          1. Try this one, and maybe leave out the garlic:
            Sounds like not too much in there he wouldn't like (unless capers are a prob).
            I make it without tuna too, and serve it beside pan fried salmon.

            3 Replies
            1. re: drgreg

              Like that one, gonna try this~ Thanks!

              1. re: chef chicklet

                One of my favorite things to do with orzo is bake it. In a oven ready sauce pan (I use one of my Calphalon pans) with a lid, I saute a couple of chopped shallots in a couple of tablespoons of butter. After a few minutes I add a cup of orzo and stir so the flavors can blend. Next I add about 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth, put the lid on and bake at 350 for 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Right before I serve, I grate some Parm into it.

              2. re: drgreg

                He wouldn't like the tuna, or the capers, but it sounds good to me! He enjoys garlic. I'll have to try a variation on that one day.