Orzo is an unusual pasta because it seems to have originated in Greece or thereabouts, which is perhaps
why it was ignored so long in specialized cookbooks that focus on Italian pasta shapes. Orzo grains look
like cream-colored rice, but they cook faster and are softer than rice when done.
This pasta takes well to cooking by the risotto method used here, which yields tender-firm grains bathed
in a little creamy "sauce," but it's also perfectly fine — especially if it's to be served as a
sauce-blotting side dish — when cooked plain, as the box label directs.
For a fast hot lunch or light supper, an orzo "risotto," with the grated cheese added at the end and more
cheese passed at the table, is most satisfying, and it's ready in half the cooking time required by rice.
| (CLICK TO BUY)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 to 4 tablespoons minced mild onion or scallions, white part only
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups orzo
1 bay leaf
4 cups heated chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Additional unsalted butter and grated Parmesan cheese, optional
|Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan; stir in the onion or scallions and garlic
and cook slowly until soft, about 5 minutes, without browning.
|Stir in the orzo and cook briefly, stirring, until the grains turn golden-brown here and there.
Add the bay leaf and 2 cups of the broth and simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed,
about 3 minutes. Add the remaining broth; cover and simmer about 7 minutes longer, or until most of the
broth had disappeared and a grain or two meet your personal tooth-test of doneness. (It's best not to
overcook this pasta.)
|Season with salt and pepper; optionally, add a lump of butter and a little grated Parmesan, if you like.
Excerpted from MRS. WITTY'S HOME-STYLE MENU COOKBOOK copyright © 1990 Helen Witty.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.