Outstanding Orzo

Don’t be fooled by its rice-like stature; orzo stands up perfectly in many dishes, from soups and salads to the main course. Enjoy these orzo ideas.

I was recently invited to join a friend for dinner at her home. Her extended Sicilian family arrived from Catania a few days prior and they were preparing a meal for all of us. How could I refuse?Among the many courses we were served was a dish I will never forget: delicious orzo pasta prepared with sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic and eggplant, fresh basil, ricotta salata cheese and fragrant extra-virgin olive oil.

Are you familiar with orzo? While many Americans are pasta lovers, the beautiful little rice-like pasta known as orzo has largely been ignored. Orzo may look like rice but it’s actually made from hard durum semolina wheat, so it’s really a type of pasta. The name in Italian means barley because that’s what it was originally made from.

Don’t be fooled by its rice-like stature; orzo holds its shape beautifully and stands up perfectly in many dishes, including salads, main courses, soups and slow-simmered stews. It’s quick and easy to prepare — simply cook for 8 to 10 minutes in boiling water, just as you would your typical pasta. So the next time you’ve got pasta on your mind, try orzo. It makes a great substitute for many other pasta shapes and it’s also delicious as a stand-in for rice, naturally.

Take a look at these outstanding orzo ideas I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

For something fun and different, substitute orzo in these recipes that call for couscous:

Have you tried orzo? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know.

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