Learn more about this Middle-Eastern staple food called Orzo

Popularity can be both a curse and a blessing at the same time. It’s great that stuff worth knowing becomes popular, but not so much when they become so popular you can’t find them anywhere. Orzo’s place in global gastronomy is still a blessing and we’re hoping it never becomes a curse because it’s highly unlikely there’s going to be a greater replacement for this versatile, healthy and tasty ingredient.

By now, you probably already know that orzo looks like rice, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular, but it’s actually pasta. Besides, the history orzo brings along it’s really interesting.

To begin with, orzo is an Italian name for small pasta and it’s widely used in Italy and in Mediterranean gastronomy in general, but it’s far more frequently used in Greece. Even though it’s the same element, Italy uses it for soups and in Greece, they use it in yiouvetsi, a lamb braised in broth, among other dishes.

Pros and… No cons, just pros

Now, the fact that it’s popular now, does not mean it’s new. On the contrary, orzo has been on the map for ages, but it became highly frequent a few years ago, especially in the States, when not only chefs and cooks but also people out of the gastronomy world found out the benefits this rice-looking pasta has.

As mentioned, orzo is wheat-made pasta which makes it healthier than other pastas. It’s versatile as it can be cooked and made in many shapes and recipes. But there’s something that makes it the ultimate ingredient: it’s a great time-saver.

Because of its versatility, orzo can be cooked in great quantities, stored and taken out of the refrigerator to adapt it to the meal of the day. Meal-preppers will love it.

And even though this might be the argument that wins over any other, orzo has another great point on its side and it’s the adaptability it has to dishes typically made with rice. So much so, you can even find an orzo recipe by Riceselect®.

Orzo recipes

As this is pasta, you can make both veggies and meat-based dishes, so here you’ll find a recipe for each.

Recipe: orzotto with pancetta and peas


  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 cup of diced pancetta.
  • 2 cups or orzo.
  • 1 onion.
  • 4 garlic cloves.
  • 4 cups chicken broth.
  • 2 cups of peas.
  • Parmesan cheese to taste.
  • Basil.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.


  1. In a medium-size frying pan, pour some extra virgin olive oil and place the pancetta. Take it to a medium heat. Fry until it browns and remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Take the pancetta out and set aside. In the same pan, place the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Fry for about five minutes in a low-heat.
  3. Finely chop the cloves of garlic and add them to the pan. Stir to mix and fry everything for an extra five minutes.
  4. Take that same pan to a medium-high heat and place the orzo. Stir continuously for about two minutes and add two cups of chicken broth. Now turn the heat to simmer and keep stirring.
  5. Add the peas, the pepper and the rest of the broth and let it all cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. Time may vary according to your stove, so make sure the orzo is fully cooked.
  6. Once done, add the fried pancetta and top it all with some fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

Veggie recipe: orzo salad


  • Two cups of orzo.
  • ½ cups of lemon juice.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 tablespoon of butter.
  • 1 onion.
  • 1 clove of garlic.
  • Fresh basil and parsley.
  • Capers.
  • Almonds.


  1. In a medium-size frying pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the previously diced onion. Do so until the onion is golden.
  2. In the same pan, add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for an extra five minutes.
  3. Take a medium-size pot and cook the orzo. For two cups of orzo, use four cups of water. Cook until it’s fully cooked (which will take about ten minutes).
  4. Once it’s done, drain it and pour some extra virgin olive oil. Mix and add the lemon juice. Set aside so it cools down. As this is a salad, let it completely cool down.
  5. In the meantime, take the almonds and toast them to a low-heat.
  6. Once the orzo is cool, add the almonds, the capers, and the previously chopped parsley and basil. Mix all the ingredients together.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.