Creamy Italian Orzo
Orzo is a small Italian pasta that looks very much like rice and is usually prepared similar to a risotto. This pasta dish is both simple and quick, fabulously creamy, and has a wonderful blend of flavors that will delight, not only the adults, but the kids too... This dish very adaptable. It can be eaten as a side dish, or add some cooked chicken, ham or shrimp for a main course. When available, I like to substitute sauteed fresh asparagus for the peas, and I often add 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms to saute along with the shallot and garlic. I love this dish because I can whip it together in about 30-40 minutes, and it's made with things that I usually have readily at hand. It makes a last minute supper feel like something special rather than an afterthought.
"Tasty...but a little bit trickier to make than I expected. I thought I needed the orzo cooked before I started the veggies. I failed to see that they had to cook 8 min after adding tomatoes. Next time, I'll start both the pot and the pan at the same time. I also had to google how to toast the pine nuts. Great as a vegetarian main dish. I made extra pine nuts for a little more protein. Hope to try with different veggies and cheeses next time."- LavenderWand
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|8 cupslow sodium chicken broth, stock, or water|
|2 tablespoonsExtra Virgin Olive Oil|
|1/2 cupshallot; (2-3 large), finely chopped (or finely chopped onion)|
|2 large clovesgarlic; finely minced|
|1 14.5-oz canfire-roasted tomatoes; diced, juices drained (I use Muir Glen brand)|
|1 1/4 cupsHeavy cream|
|1 cupfrozen peas; thawed|
|1 cupParmesan or Romano cheese; freshly grated, and more to pass|
|Salt and Black Pepper; freshly ground|
|4 teaspoonspine nuts; toasted, (optional)|
Creamy Italian Orzo Preparation
In a large heavy saucepan, bring chicken brorh or salted water to boil over high heat. Slowly stir in the orzo and cook uncovered, stiring often, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Heat oil in a large heavy saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute about 2 minute. Add the garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes, or until mixture is tender and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas, and cook, stirring often, until cream just begins to bubble. Add the orzo, tossing to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cheese to the pasta mixture. Stir until the sauce coats the pasta thickly. If needed, add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts, if desired. Serve immediately in warmed bowls along with additional cheese to pass.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Do not substitute milk for the cream, it's just not the same. Also, the amount of cream may sound like a lot, but this recipe makes a huge amount of pasta--maybe 12 side dish servings or 8+ main dish servings. The recipe can be easily halved, if desired.
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