Learning how to cook orzo pasta can be a game-changer for anyone looking for a quick and versatile side dish. In this complete step by step guide, you will find everything they need to know about cooking orzo, including the orzo to water ratio, cooking time, and what to serve with it.
Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, this guide is a must-read for anyone looking to add a new pasta dish to their repertoire.
- Orzo is a versatile pasta that can be used in a variety of side dishes.
- Knowing the orzo to water ratio and cooking time is crucial for perfect orzo.
- Cheesy orzo risotto is a delicious and quick side dish option.
- For a chewy texture, cook the orzo until al dente. Avoid overcooking to prevent it from becoming mushy.
- Toasting the orzo in butter before cooking can add extra flavour.
- Orzo can also be cooked in a one-pot dish to save time and prevent sticking
A Bit About Orzo
Orzo Pasta Ingredients
To cook orzo pasta, one needs the following ingredients:
- Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock
- Parmesan cheese
These ingredients are commonly used in various recipes that involve orzo pasta. One can also add other ingredients, such as herbs, tomatoes, spinach, feta, olives, capers, and more, to enhance the flavour of the dish. Salt and pepper can also be used to season the dish to taste.
How to Cook Orzo
To make a basic orzo recipe, start by bringing 2 cups of salted water to a boil.
Add one cup of orzo and cook for about 10 – 12 minutes or until tender. You can skip the next steps if you just want plain orzo.
Drain the orzo pasta and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Save some pasta water for later use.
In a large skillet, melt a little butter over medium heat.
Add cooked orzo and a splash of vegetable stock. Cook for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
Add some fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, and lemon juice for a nutty flavour. Top with feta cheese and parmesan orzo for a perfect side dish.
Leftover orzo can be stored in an airtight container and kept at room temperature for a few days.
Orzo Side Dishes Tips
When preparing orzo for a side dish, it is important to keep in mind that orzo should be treated like pasta, not rice.
Boiling is the preferred method of cooking, rather than steaming. A good rule of thumb is to use ¼ cup of dry orzo pasta per person, meaning that a 16-ounce box will serve 8 people. Orzo is versatile and can be served hot or cold, can be a main dish or a simple side dish making it perfect for a range of dishes from comforting soups to fresh salads.
Orzo is a great side dish to make ahead of time, as it will absorb more flavour the longer it sits. If reheating is necessary, place the orzo in a casserole dish and reheat in the oven at 200°F for 20 minutes.
Some popular orzo side dishes include orzo salad, pasta salad, orzo pilaf, and orzo risotto. Orzo pairs well with a variety of ingredients, such as mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, prawns, lamb, and squash. A simple vinaigrette can also be used to add flavour to orzo salads.
Orzo to Water Ratio
When cooking orzo, a typical 2-to-1 ratio of water to pasta is recommended, unless a recipe specifies otherwise. This means that for 1 cup of dry orzo pasta, 2 cups of water should be used. To simplify, a quick chart can be followed as an example:
|Pasta Amount||Water Amount|
|¼ cup||½ cup water|
|½ cup||1 cup water|
|1 cup||2 cups water|
|1¼ cup||2½ cups water|
It is important to note that this ratio is similar to cooking perfect rice. When boiling water, it is recommended to use a pot that is large enough to accommodate the pasta and water, and to add salt to the water before adding the pasta.
I also use this ratio for rice and quinoa and cooks perfectly.
Orzo is a type of pasta that is shaped like rice grains. Here are some frequently asked questions about orzo:
- Is orzo the same thing as rice? Although rice and orzo look similar, they are not the same thing. Orzo is pasta shaped like rice, and when it is cooked, it has the same texture as pasta. Orzo is very creamy in texture with a slightly buttery finish while traditional steamed rice will have a slight bite to it from the grainy texture.
- Is orzo gluten-free? Most types of orzo available for purchase are not gluten-free as they contain semolina flour, which contains high levels of gluten. However, there are many brands of gluten-free orzo available for purchase. These can be found in-store or online. As always, be sure to check each ingredient before using them in a recipe for proper food allergy handling.
- How to make sure my orzo doesn’t stick? Always make sure you follow the correct cooking time for making orzo. Once cooked, the orzo will have a softer, chewy texture. To help prevent sticking, add a dash of extra virgin olive oil to the pot of boiling water. Also, be sure to drain your orzo completely.
Orzo is a great pantry staple that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is a good source of carbohydrates and protein, making it a great substitute for rice or other grains. Orzo is also a vegetarian option for those looking for meat-free meals. When cooking with orzo, be sure to check the nutrition information on the package as it may contain saturated fats, sugars, and fibre.
How Much Orzo Per Person
When it comes to serving orzo, the serving size is similar to traditional pasta. Typically, ¼ cup of dry pasta or 2 ounces per person is recommended. A 16 oz. box of orzo is enough to serve 8 people. To make things easier, here’s a chart to help determine the amount of dry orzo pasta needed for a specific number of people.
|Number of People||Amount of Dry Orzo Pasta Needed|
|1||¼ cup (2 ounces/28g)|
|2||½ cup (4 ounces/56g)|
|3||¾ cup (6 ounces/85g)|
|4||1 cups (8 ounces/113g)|
|5||1¼ cups (10 ounces/283g)|
|6||1½ cups (12 ounces/340g)|
|7||1¾ cups (14 ounces/397g)|
|8||2 cups (16 ounces/453g)|
|9||2¼ cups (18 ounces/510g)|
|10||2½ cups (20 ounces/567g)|
It’s important to note that these are just recommendations and can be adjusted based on personal preference.
Orzo Cooking Time
Orzo can be cooked in under 30 minutes with a water-to-pasta ratio of 2 cups of water to 1 cup of orzo. This makes it a great option for preparing ahead of time. You can choose to either make the entire dish and let it sit before serving, or make only the orzo ahead of time and assemble the recipe the day of.
What to Serve with Orzo
Orzo is a versatile ingredient that can be paired with many different main courses. To make a simple yet delicious side dish, cook the orzo, toss in a tablespoon of butter, and season with salt and pepper. Here are some meal ideas to serve with orzo:
- Any type of chicken
- Pan-seared pork chops with Dijon mustard sauce
- Sautéed spinach
- Mediterranean salad
- Smoked Bacon and Peas
These dishes make for a perfect pairing with orzo, providing a range of flavours and textures to complement the pasta.
How to Store Orzo Pasta
Raw orzo should be stored in an airtight sealed container in a cool, dry area of the kitchen to prevent moisture and humidity from affecting the quality of the pasta. It is important to keep in mind the expiration date of uncooked pasta before using it in a recipe.
When it comes to cooked orzo, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days when covered. If you want to freeze cooked orzo, it is best to do so for up to 2 months. Remember to label and date the outside of the container or freezer bag to keep track of the storage time.
To reheat frozen orzo, it is recommended to let it thaw in the fridge overnight. For best results, gently reheat the orzo over low heat on the stove, stirring frequently. Alternatively, you can reheat the orzo in the microwave by placing it in a microwave-safe container and reheating using 10-15 second intervals until the desired temperature is reached, stirring between each interval.
Pasta Side Dishes
Looking for some delicious pasta side dishes to complement your main course? Look no further! Try these mouth-watering options:
- Asparagus Pasta
- Spinach and Mushroom Pasta
- Rainbow Slaw
- Avocado Pasta
- Bacon and Mushroom
Each dish is easy to make and bursting with flavour. Add some variety to your meals with these tasty pasta side dishes.
How To Cook Orzo
- 1 Cup Orzo
- 2 Cups Water
- 30 g Butter
- 75 g Parmesan Cheese (or any strong cheese)
- Salt and Black Pepper (to season)
- 1 tsp Vegetable Stock (powdered mixed with 2tbsp of hot water)
- To make a basic orzo recipe, start by bringing 2 cups of salted water to a boil.Add one cup of orzo and cook for about 10 – 12 minutes or until tender.Drain the orzo pasta and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Save some pasta water for later use.In a large skillet, melt a little butter over medium heat.Add cooked orzo and a splash of vegetable stock. Cook for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Add some fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, and lemon juice for a nutty flavour. Top with feta cheese and parmesan orzo for a perfect side dish.1 Cup Orzo, 2 Cups Water, 30 g Butter, 75 g Parmesan Cheese, Salt and Black Pepper, 1 tsp Vegetable Stock