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The wizards of orzo, from soups to risottos | Pasta

What’s one of the simplest ways to prepare dinner orzo?
“Orzo jogs my memory of being a baby,” says Jacob Kenedy, chef/proprietor of Bocca di Lupo in London. “It’s very comforting, and you’ll eat it with a spoon.” It’s maybe first price noting that in Italy the phrase orzo actually means “‘barley”, and the pasta we all know as orzo extra typically goes by the title rosmarino (attributable to its likeness to a rosemary needle) or risoni (large rice). Right here, we’re speaking the pasta, which Kenedy makes use of as an alternative choice to each barley and rice, and says is especially suited to soups and broths. For the latter, Feast’s Italian correspondent Rachel Roddy would look to Naples and a “actually tasty, brothy soup with tomatoes and basil”. Gently sizzle some garlic in olive oil, then add tomatoes (“crush them together with your fingers”), basil and salt. Pour in water, add orzo and simmer till the pasta is tender. “Then loads of cheese and pepper on the finish, and also you get this good, thick soup.”

Orzo can be handled like pilaf, which for Kenedy means melting a little bit of butter, frying the pasta for a second, then including “simply the correct amount of inventory [chicken or fish] for it to soak up. That works very well.”

Alternatively, serve it risotto-style, Roddy says: “Whenever you boil orzo in water, the starch leaches out, so that you get this creamy texture,” she says, including that there are few higher companions come spring than peas, lemon and parmesan. Prepare dinner diced onion in melted butter and oil, add peas, then tip in orzo and stir to coat each grain. In goes some inventory, simmer till the pasta is tender, then stir by way of lemon zest, parmesan and parsley: “That’s beautiful.” Kenedy, in the meantime, can be tempted to prepare dinner the pasta individually, not least as a result of that may be performed prematurely and saved within the fridge. “The final time I did that, I made some verdant chard puree [you could use spinach instead], warmed that up and stirred orzo by way of it with parmesan and butter.”

If Kenedy was confronted with a packet of the stuff proper now, although, he says he’d get it in rooster (or parmesan or mushroom) broth. “Prepare dinner the orzo within the broth, so it absorbs a few of its flavour, then, when the pasta is just about cooked, add asparagus minimize diagonally, and peas.” Simply earlier than the veg are prepared, chuck in just a few basil or wild garlic leaves and serve with parmesan and a spoon.

Orzo’s form shouldn’t be all that dissimilar to fregola, so Kenedy can be tempted to deal with it in a lot the identical manner – in a tomatoey, saffrony fish stew, say. In any other case, it may win over any pasta salad sceptics. “Don’t depart the orzo too al dente for those who’re going to serve it chilly, although,” he warns, “as a result of it companies because it chills.” Costume with lemon juice, basil and prawns or flaked tuna. “And mess around with it – add some barely cooked courgettes and mint, for instance, or peas and mint, or asparagus and mint.” This might be finest eaten at room temperature, as would Roddy’s combo of cooked orzo with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, a load of herbs and a tin of tuna. The important thing? “The whole lot must be finely minced,” she says.

Lastly, think about the candy facet. “I’ve bought a good friend who cooks orzo like rice pudding,” Roddy says. “There are rather a lot of unexplored candy pasta dishes on the market, so positively experiment with that.”

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