Saturday, January 17, 2015

#311 Orzo Three Ways, By: V

Orzo is an Italian short-cut pasta that looks a lot like rice.  I often tell people that it's similar to Risotto, but I'd say it mirrors rice even more.  Early last week I grilled chicken for dinner and was planning on serving them with some linguine marinara when I realized I didn't have any linguine at home.  In a flurry I just decided to dump a whole box of Barilla orzo into a pot of boiling water.  Let's just say after about 9 minutes of boiling later (yes, it cooks that quickly), I had enough orzo to last for the week. So, it became my dinner that night as well as my lunch for the week.  In order to make the dish more interesting as the week progressed, I came up with a few variations.  Unfortunately I don't have pictures for all of them, but I hope you'll try the recipes out nonetheless.

That night for dinner since I was grilling a pretty spicy chicken, I decided to balance out the flavor by pairing it with a mild but bright flavor. The Creamy Lemon Orzo was a perfect match.  The tartness of the lemon with the creamy addition of the soup morphed the taste of the orzon into that of a creamy risotto.

Creamy Lemon Orzo


  • juice of 2 whole lemons
  • 1 can (10 3/4) oz. condensed cream of broccoli (or any creamed) soup
  • 1/2 box of Barilla Orzo
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozarella or grated parmesan

  1. Cook the orzo per the directions on the box.  Usually bring the water to a boil (covering the water with a lid and heating on high heat does the trick faster), add the dry uncooked orzo and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes.  It should be al dente. 
  2. Drain and place the orzo in a large serving bowl. 
  3. Add your creamed soup and all of the juice from 2 lemons. 
  4. Then, while the orzo is still warm add in your mozarella or parmesan.  
  5. Add the salt and pepper to your personal taste and stir thoroughly.
Grilled Asparagus and Orzo

  • 1 bunch of fresh asparagus
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Caesar dressing (or Italian)
  • 3 cups dry orzo
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Wash the asparagus.  Cut the stem ends (about 1/2 inch) off all the asparagus.  Place them on a baking sheet (on top of aluminum or tin foil makes cleaning easier).  Drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper over the of the asparagus.
  2. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until slightly browned. Take out of the oven and let cool, while you prepare the orzo. 
  3. Cook the orzo per directions on the box (see 1 and 2 in the above recipe). 
  4. Once you can handle the asparagus, place them on a cutting board and chop each into two or three pieces.  Size should match the orzo.  Add the asparagus to the orzo. 
  5. Then add in the dressing.  You can make your own or use store bought. 
  6. Mix thoroughly and serve tossed into a green salad with chicken and feta.
Orzo with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Crispy Kale

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups dry orzo
  • 3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash, peel and dice the sweet potatoes into about 1 inch cubes.  Place them on a baking sheet (I like to line mine with aluminum foil to minimize the clean-up).  
  3. Drizzle the olive oil over the sweet potatoes along with the paprika and thyme.  Toss the entire mixture to coat the sweet potato pieces fully.  Add the chopped kale and toss into the mixture also.  
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, make your orzo per the instructions on the box or as I outlined in my directions above.  
  6. Once the veggies are roasted take them out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Then add to the orzo and toss fully.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  
In my picture below I just placed the sweet potatoes and kale right on top of the risotto.  But, stirred everything together at lunch right as I was about to eat.  It really doesn't matter how you go about doing this.  It's amazing how the kale gets crunchy almost to the texture of kale chips.  With each bite the creamy sweet potato and crunchy kale blend perfectly against the risotto's texture.  This is the perfect cold weather dish.  You can even add this mixture to uncooked kale or spinach, top with a grilled salmon or steak filet and you have a delicious cold weather salad dinner.  

Washington, D.C.'s Restaurant week starts in exactly two days.  I have plans for lunch on Monday already in the works, so look out for that review next week! If you live in or plan on visiting the D.C. area from January 19-25 check out some of the great restaurant options and take advantages of these awesome deals:  I plan on checking out 701 and Nopa Kitchen & Bar :) Already excited!


  1. I love the combo of sweet potato and kale in this warm orzo salad. It looks very satisfying and delicious, V.

  2. Hi Malli....nice way to eat sweet potato...looks delicious.... didn't realise V stands for malli

  3. Hi Biny - V doesn't stand for Malli. Malli, my mom, started this blog in 2010, but mid-2014 decided to step down and hand it off to me and my sister (N) who also publishes to this blog. Hope this explains things, check out the 'About Us' section for more info!

  4. All the three recipes sound very delicious. I've never tried or seen Orzo before. Thanks to you, now I know..! ^.^


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