Risotto is one of my favorite foods.  Traditionally made from aborio rice, it is one of those platform ingredients that you can make literally thousands of dishes from.  However, not one to hold closely to tradition, I’ve started making risotto out of ingredients other than rice.  In this recipe video, I show you how to make an Orzo risotto.  Orzo is a rice shaped, but make no mistake, it is pasta.  I’ll show you how to treat it in a typical “risotto” style, where we’ll add some summer vegetables, and make a dish that is a close cousin, yet clearly different.  Aside of being absolutely delicious, a side benefit is that I can typically get this version cooked a good bit faster, and the taste and texture has some very unique and very good qualities.  Hope you enjoy it!

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

To make the best Orzo Risotto you can just make sure you pay attention to the following:

  1. Similar to risotto, you need to cook the orzo by adding a few ladles of stock at a time, and stirring (not constantly) but pretty frequently.  The pasta, will release starch as it cooks, and help create a nice creamy sauce
  2. Use great ingredients.  I’m using summer vegetables here, as I made the dish is summer and I was able to get good corn, good peppers, etc.  You can use whatever is in season, just make sure it’s good.
  3. The Orzo will take longer to cook with this method than the package suggests. But like all pasta, you don’t want overcooked mush.  Start tasting when the package says the orzo should be cooked through, and then every couple minutes after that, until you get a tender, but firm texture
  4. The consistency of the risotto should allow it to relax/ooze on the plate.  It should not be soupy…it should not be stiff.  You can always thin it out by adding more stock or water.

RECIPE FOR ORZO RISOTTO

Ingredients for Corn Chowder (2 servings)

  • 3/4 Cup orzo pasta
  • 1/4 cup zucchini diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 large shallot diced
  • 1 large garlic clove mined
  • 1 ear of corn, corn kernels cut off the cob
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons creme fresh
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Pinch of thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Making the Risotto

  • Pour the chicken stock into a sauce pan and bring it to a simmer
  • Heat a separate sauté pan over medium heat, and coat the bottom with olive oil; add the shallot and garlic and season with salt and pepper
  • Sweat the shallot until soft, and then add the orzo pasta
  • Toss the pasta and cook for 3 – 4 minutes
  • Add enough of the simmering chicken stock to just cover the orzo, and stir
  • Allow the orzo to lightly simmer, and stir every couple minutes until the chicken stock is reduced by about half (don’t let the pan go dry) then add a couple more ladles of chicken stock; continue that process
  • After 4 - 5 minutes add the thyme, corn, zucchini, and pepper and stir to combine
  • Season with salt and pepper, continue to add stock and stir until the orzo is al dente
  • Once cooked, turn heat all they way down, and add the parmesan cheese, cream fresh, and butter.  Stir them into the orzo and taste
  • Re-season with salt and pepper if needed

Serve up the orzo risotto in a pasta bowl and enjoy!! 

Wine Recommendation:  This orzo risotto is rich and creamy, and I think you’d be fine if you wanted to grab a light and fruity pinot noir that had a good amount of acid.  However, I probably stick with a full bodied white wine, and I think the oak in a chardonnay would work nicely with the corn in the risotto.  Just about anything from California would do be great.