Here are some ideas and recipes mentioned in my recent Orzo blog.
Plain but different
Orzo is often cooked like risotto or is added to stews and flavoursome saucy dishes as an accompaniment. For something quick and simple yet interesting, I start with preparing a simple tomato sauce , the basis for many of my dishes and a recipe for which can be viewed here. Instead of cooking the sauce for the full 20 minutes and then adding to pre cooked pasta add the orzo in the sauce ten minutes in the process and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes at the lowest heat, adding small amounts of boiled water as and if required and until the pasta is cooked.
For a simple version of the sauce I prefer using chopped fresh basil leaves and cinnamon. But I also love the spiced up version that Dr Dodds and I had for our film night: fry a small chilli pepper in the olive oil before adding the garlic and herbs and keep it in the sauce for duration of its cooking. For an even spicier version I use chilly infused olive oil. Other times I just add a bit of Tabasco and some oregano.
When the guests and I cannot wait for slow cooking, I cheat and whilst I prepare the sauce I also pre-boiled the orzo pasta for 5 to the full 9 minutes of its cooking time, drain and add to the sauce leaving it to set for a couple of minutes before eating.
For the amount of tomato sauce described here use 250 -300 gr of Orzo.
The first time I made an orzo pasta bake, I used fresh basil, a small chilly pepper, some cinnamon and plenty of ground pimenta berries (all spice) for the sauce. Also instead of tins I also used fresh and ripe plum tomatoes that were in season in August (from Bleancamel stall at Roath Farmer’s market) for a tastier and very special version of the sauce. Once the pasta had absorbed the excess of the juices I added to a baking tray together with about 200 grams of finely grated parmesan cheese and topped it with roughly grated mature cheddar. The finishing touch that really adds to this recipe is to sprinkle the cheddar cheese with more grated allspice, pimenta berries.
For this recipe I used a full pack of orzo (500gr) and made double the amount of tomato sauce.
Orzo for salad
Another favourite is orzo flavoured with young spinach leaves, fried garlic, roasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. You can go crazy as orzo is perfect for salad preparation and interesting lunch boxes. Why not try adding sun dried tomatoes?