Classed as a pastina or “little pasta” in Italy, orzo is shaped like a large grain of rice and gets its name from the Italian for “barley”. Orzo makes a great addition to salads, ready meals and soups due to its small size. Orzo is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, and it offers unique culinary possibilities.
Orzo is a versatile pasta shape that can be used in various dishes, such as soups, salads, pilafs, and side dishes. It can mimic the texture and appearance of rice, making it a great alternative in recipes that traditionally call for rice.
Texture & Cooking
Orzo has a firm, chewy texture when cooked. It is typically boiled in salted water until it is al dente, which means it still retains a slight firmness.
Orzo works well with a wide range of sauces, flavours, and ingredients. Here are a few examples:
- Soups: Orzo is commonly used in soups, such as Italian wedding soup or chicken noodle soup. Its small size adds a pleasant texture to the broth.
- Salads: Orzo is a popular choice for pasta salads. It can be combined with vegetables, herbs, dressing, and protein to create a refreshing and filling dish.
- Pilafs and side dishes: Orzo can be cooked with aromatics like onion and garlic, then simmered in broth to create a flavorful pilaf. It can also be used as a side dish in place of rice or other grains.
- Tomato-based sauces: Orzo can be tossed with tomato-based sauces, such as marinara or arrabbiata, for a hearty pasta dish.
- Creamy sauces: Orzo can be used with creamy sauces like Alfredo or carbonara, providing a unique twist to classic pasta dishes.