Monday, January 18, 2010

Pasta Risotto

I love rice, but sometimes I want an alternative side for my meat dishes. Orzo is a great alternative to rice and can be very versatile. Never had orzo before? Or, don't know what orzo is? Read on.

Orzo is a pasta, and like most other pastas that you have had, is most often made from semolina flour. It is a small, rice shaped pasta (pictured above). Often I have made orzo as a side to accompony chicken dishes. When I make it, I frequently add a bit of cheese, as does this recipe, making the pasta rich and velvelty. Other places to use orzo are in soups and casseroles. You can find orzo at any grocery store in the pasta section.

Pasta Risotto
Recipe from The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee with Diane Porter
Pictures by Caroline

2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup orzo
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 shallots)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/2 cup frozen peas or sugar snap peas, strings removed
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Bring a large pot of water to boil; add 2 teaspoons of salt and the orzo. Cook until not quite tender, 5 to 6 minutes. The orzo should be slightly underdone to allow for further cooking. Drain.
2. While the orzo is cooking, in a medium skillet, sauté the shallots in the olive oil until they are golden brown, about 4 or 5 minutes.
3. Add the stock to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the drained orzo and stir. Turn the heat to low. Cook until most of the stock has been absorbed by the orzo.
4. Add the half-and-half, peas, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until heated through, stirring several times, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir. Serve immediately.

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