Orzo: The Pasta that Looks Like Rice

Orzo is a little pasta that looks like rice. You can cook it like pasta and then drain it or cook it like rice, measuring the water and letting it absorb it all.  A simple pat of butter, squirt of lemon juice and some parsley adds a nice touch of flavor.

To cook it like pasta, just boil in water according to the package directions , drain, and then season with a bit of something: butter and parsley and/or Parmesan, depending on how mild you want it.

If you want to cook it like rice, I learned how from How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart, one of the best books for learning techniques I think.

  • 1 quart water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 pound orzo

Bring the salted water to a boil, stir in the orzo and boil until the pasta is tender and most of the water is absorbed, about 9 minutes.  Stir in whatever flavorings you like and serve.

Last night I added:

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • a squirt of lemon juice from a fresh lemon
  • a bit of freshly chopped parsley

There are several delicious sounding variations in Anderson’s book, including blue cheese and walnuts, basil and pine nuts, tomatoes and feta and olives, roasted peppers and basil.

I gave my sister a copy of this book, knowing she would enjoy it. She just said the other night that she thinks she’s learned more from this book than many others. Other cookbooks offer recipes. Anderson shows you how to take a technique (sauteeing for example) and use it on chicken breasts, fish, pork, etc and then has a whole section of pan sauces or uncooked relishes that can go with them.

Likewise the soup section shows you a basic formula for good soup and then offers a bunch of variations and guidance on how to go beyond her list.  Good salads, good pasta recipes, fried rice variations, lo mein, omelets and frittatas. You could eat well just using this book. I think I need to buy a copy for my college daughter who wants (and needs!) to learn to cook more.





  1. […] made some plain orzo to go with it, just boiling for 9 minutes, draining, and stirring in a pat of […]


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