The Italian word “Orzo” translates literally as “barley”. It is also the name of a small cut pasta roughly the size and shape of a large grain of rice. Orzo is most often used in soups, and I do occasionally substitute Orzo for barley in some soup recipes but here we’re preparing Orzo as a pasta side dish.
If you’ve ever made Rice-A-Roni®, you know that the first step in its preparation is to sauté the rice and macaroni mixture. That step is critical in the preparation of that product to prevent the rice from overcooking. We include that step in this recipe to add a terrific toasted flavor and texture.
You’re going to spend a few minutes paying attention to this dish, but the results are worth the time. Make this as a side dish to accompany an oven roasted Chicken or other main course that requires very little attention, then you’ll have the extra few minutes to spare for Orzo!
Butter Toasted Orzo
Yield: 4 Servings Preparation Time: 10 Minutes Cooking Time: 15 Minutes
• 2 Cups Chicken Stock
• ¼ Cup Pine Nuts
• 1 Cup Orzo Pasta
• 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
• Kosher Salt
Step 1. Bring Chicken Stock to simmer in a small sauce pan over medium heat and keep hot, but not boiling.
Step 2. In a medium sauté pan toast the Pine Nuts over medium-high heat, transfer to bowl and set aside to cool.
Step 3. Add 1 tablespoon of Unsalted Butter to same sauté pan, still over medium-high heat. When the Butter just begins to bubble stir in Orzo and sauté for 4 to 6 minutes until about half of the Orzo has turned a golden brown.
Step 4. Carefully stir in ½ cup of the hot Chicken Stock – this first addition will create a lot of steam and sputtering! Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add more Stock, ½ cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed by the pasta before adding more liquid. After the third addition of Stock remove one grain of pasta and taste for texture, it should be somewhat less than al dente. If the pasta is too firm, add the remaining ½ cup of Stock and cook until it is absorbed.
Step 5. Reduce the heat to low and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of Unsalted Butter until melted and the pasta is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with Kosher Salt.
Serve immediately with toasted Pine Nuts sprinkled over the top of the pasta.
Tips and Trending
~ The cooking process here is almost identical to the preparation of Risotto, although our Orzo takes less time.
~ For a creamier dish, stir in 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter in step 5 and cook for an extra minute.
~ Try shaving some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top of the Orzo to add another intense flavor layer, but reduce the amount of Kosher Salt you add in step 5.