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Try this salad out and let orzo sweep you off your feet!

Orzo is officially considered a pasta, although it’s more similar to rice. So, what’s the deal with this not so new, but singular ingredient?

Well, orzo comes from Mediterranean gastronomy and it translates to ‘barley’, but that may lead to some confusion because orzo is actually a pastina made of whole wheat.

Now, in image, it resembles a grain of rice and this has led to the inclusion of the ingredient as a replacement in many rice-based preparations. A typical Spanish paella can be given a twist if you use orzo instead. Or why not follow a classic orzo salad recipe for a summer day?

Orzo can be used in endless preparations and here you’ll find out a recipe for you to follow and how to cook orzo to make the most of it!

Orzo: what it is and how to cook it

Orzo, also known as ‘risoni’, is a versatile wheat pasta, or pastina due to its small size, ideal for a wide variety of recipes. Popular in the Mediterranean diet, especially in both Italy and Greece where it goes by the name of ‘krithiraki’, orzo has a lot to offer. It is high in proteins, making it a perfect side dish to your everyday meals, not to mention it’s quite filling and that it pairs well with next to everything.

As orzo is in the pasta family, the cooking method is just as simple as with any other pasta. Cooking it in boiling salted water for ten minutes will give you the perfect al dente version of orzo. Use a cup and a half of water for every cup of orzo.

Moreover, you can cook it in a vegetable broth to maximize its flavor or even toast it in some melted butter in a saucepan before boiling it in a broth of water. Just as you can do with rice, you can let it cook in the broth until the liquid is absorbed.

Orzo salad: the recipe

With a combination of orzo, fresh vegetables and pesto sauce, this is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and it reflects exactly those principles: few fresh, local and healthy ingredients that bring about a simple, nutritious and filling dish. This salad can be either the main course or a side dish and it can definitely be adapted to your personal taste. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of orzo.
  • 3 cups of water.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • Black pepper.
  • 1 cup of asparagus.
  • ½ cup of olives.
  • 1 celery stick.
  • ½ cup of pesto sauce.
  • 1 cup of fresh squid (optional)

Preparation

  1. In a medium size pot, pour three cups of water and salt it. Bring to a boil and pour two cups of orzo. Cook the orzo for ten minutes.
  2. Once it is done, drain it, rinse it under cold water and set aside so that it cools down. If you’re doing this in advance, you can take the past to the fridge for a couple of hours.
  3. As for the vegetables, start by steaming the asparagus. Take a saucepan and, in boiling water, cook them for no more than five minutes so that they get tender. Once done, chop them up.
  4. Take the olives and half them, take them to a big bowl together with the asparagus.
  5. Add the orzo and coat everything with the pesto sauce.
  6. In a saucepan, pour some olive oil and fry the squid for a few minutes until browned.
  7. Add the squid to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together.
  8. Season everything with some salt and black pepper.

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