Lovers of international cuisine are always in search of new foods and new dishes. Orzo is one of such novelties that are getting more and more popular. Thus, for more and more people, it is no longer an exotic or unknown food. However, if you are also interested in gastronomic novelties, you may not yet be familiar with orzo. Then read on to find out a little more.
Although it is a “discovery” for many food lovers in the Western hemisphere, orzo has actually been a well-known foodstuff for many generations in Italy and other regions of the central and eastern Mediterranean. Some even believe that its origins date back to ancient Near and Middle Eastern civilizations.
Regardless of its origins, orzo is certainly a traditional food that has begun to gain ground outside the area where it was already a customary dish.
It’s Not Raw Grains, It’s Pasta
Despite its curious shape of elongated grains—the word orzo literally means ‘barley’ in Italian—, orzo is not an exotic species of cereal, nor is it a rare variety of the familiar rice grown all over the world. In fact, orzo is a kind of pasta. Therefore, it is made from wheat, and specifically, from semolina, like your favorite spaghetti, so it can be used to prepare the same dishes that are usually prepared with pasta, and even a few more. This shows the great versatility of orzo.
No matter how it is prepared and in which dishes it is used as an ingredient, the important thing is to always use fresh and good quality ingredients, such as the orzo that you can find at riceselect.com/product/orzo.
One Kind Of Pasta, Many Kinds Of Dishes
Since it is a kind of pasta, and one as versatile as the most common and well-known types, orzo can be used as an ingredient in a wide variety of dishes.
1. As A Main Dish
With Your Favorite Sauces
The traditional dish of spaghetti alla Bolognese or penne alla marinara can be given a new life if prepared with orzo. So you will have Bolognese orzo or marinara orzo, just as delicious and by no means more complicated to cook in your own kitchen if you have the necessary ingredients.
With Meat Stews
A nice plate of orzo topped with some beef, pork or chicken stew is enough to make a hearty lunchtime dish. And you will not need any side dishes.
Do you prefer vegetables? No problem. With a pesto sauce or vegetable stew, orzo will satisfy your vegetarian taste without depriving you of a delicious and nutritious dish.
As A stuffing
The shape of orzo and its ability to grow in volume when cooking make it an ideal ingredient for stuffing. By mixing cooked orzo with fish, e.g. tuna, and a few spices, you will get a simple and tasty stuffing for red tomatoes or green zucchini. The color contrast will be appetizing in itself.
2. As A Side Dish
You may already have your main course—whether for meat-eaters or vegetarians—but you may not have a traditional side dish, such as white rice, salad or boiled potatoes. Do not worry—a little orzo and a few spices will be a good accompaniment to roasts and stews.
3. To Give Body To Other Dishes
Just like gnocchi, another traditional European dish that is also gaining lovers or fans all over the world, orzo is often used to give body to other dishes. For example, it is used to add volume and flavor to vegetable or meat soups. It can also be added to green salads.
And One Drawback: Not For Celiacs & Vegans
Let us remember again: orzo is pasta, which means that it is made from semolina, i.e. ultimately wheat. Therefore, the original orzo contains gluten. However, if you have celiac disease, do not be discouraged —there are versions of orzo made from gluten-free flours. Be sure to read the label on the package carefully.
On the other hand, orzo, like many kinds of pasta, may contain egg and milk derivatives. If you are vegan, you should look for the version without egg and dairy.
You should also be wary of many recipes you can find on the Internet that claim to be vegan recipes with orzo. For the recipe to be truly vegan, vegan orzo must be used.