Italian for "barley," orzo is tiny, rice-shaped pasta that actually resembles pearls of barley. Traditionally used in zuppa (soup), modern chefs have taken to using it for side and main dishes as well.
Look for dried orzo made with semolina (durum wheat). With a mellow taste, this type of pasta absorbs less water and retains a nice "bite" when cooked to al dente.
Always check the package when buying any dried pasta. If it's dusty, or the pasta looks crumbly or broken, choose another box. Generally speaking, imported Italian pastas are of better quality than American-factory made products.
Dried pasta can be stored almost indefinitely in an airtight container. Keep it in a cool, dry place.
Try another "soup" pasta such as ditalini or pastina.
Try one of our favorite orzo recipes:
View BigOven's orzo recipes