Orzo, like rice, can be a blank canvass for flavors. Start with this simple recipe for Herbed Orzo, then let your imagination take over
The story behind Herbed Orzo
This recipe for Herbed Orzo is not really a recipe at all.
Well, it is a recipe, but it's not. Just like orzo looks like rice, but it isn't. It's pasta. But it works just like rice. Clear enough?
What is Orzo really?
Orzo, Italian for "barley" due to its resemblance to the grain in its unprocessed form. It is a small rice-shaped pasta made from semolina flour. It's classified among pasta as "pastina" — a category of tiny shapes commonly used for soups.
It is not gluten-free but its shape and simple pasta flavor lend it well for making it the base of many tasty dishes like I used here in my recipe for Tequila Sunrise Pork with Orzo where it is used similar to risotto.
The main purpose of this recipe is to simply show how easy it is to take something very ordinary, plain orzo, and change it into a fresh, tasty side, like Herbed Orzo.
The fresh herbs transform. A little butter and some fruity extra virgin olive oil lend a nice mouthfeel. It's like making pesto but without the work. The flavors are so easy to work with; add a little parmesan cheese. It's a new side. Add some pine nuts, different again. How about some fresh peas? or Spinach? Really, this recipe is just a concept. A blank canvass. Ready for your creative touch to your family's taste.
So create away!
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon fresh minced thyme
- ½ teaspoon fresh minced oregano
- ½ teaspoon fresh minced tarragon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain reserving ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Return the orzo to the pot and stir in the butter, oil, and herbs along with salt and pepper, to taste. Add a little pasta water if you want a looser dish.