Orzo risotto both quick, sim­ple

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - GWEN­DOLYN RICHARDS TO READ MORE OF GWEN­DOLYN RICHARDS’ CULI­NARY AD­VEN­TURES, CHECK OUT HER BLOG AT PATENTANDT­HEPANTRY.COM [email protected]­ALD.COM

Some recipes you try once and then never again.

Oth­ers you en­joy and think of once in a while to make, per­haps with a few tweaks.

And then there are recipes you try and they im­me­di­ately be­come part of your reg­u­lar ro­ta­tion, even to the point where you take steps to en­sure you’ve got ev­ery­thing on hand in case the mood strikes.

Such is the case with an orzo risotto from Nigella Law­son that I find my­self crav­ing more than I should.

When her lat­est book, Nigel­lis­sima, was sent to me for re­view about a year ago, one recipe was in­trigu­ing enough that I drove straight to the Ital­ian mar­ket af­ter work to pick up the in­gre­di­ents to at­tempt it that night.

In the months since, I’ve made it nu­mer­ous times and find my­self pick­ing up slabs of pancetta when­ever I see them while shop­ping, just to en­sure I’ve got all the req­ui­site in­gre­di­ents for when the crav­ing strikes. Like it did this week. Luck­ily, this dish is fast, easy and sim­ple, so crav­ings can im­me­di­ately be sat­is­fied.

It’s pasta mas­querad­ing as a risotto with tra­di­tional Ar­bo­rio rice swapped for orzo — a rice-shaped pasta — to soak up the flavours of gar­lic and pancetta.

Most of my love for this recipe comes from the com­bi­na­tion of tex­tures and flavours: the salty bits of crisp pancetta, the sweet and fresh pop of peas, all against the ten­der, yet still slightly chewy, orzo.

It’s also, though, that this recipe is so ridicu­lously easy and fast that I know I’ll be eat­ing in less than 20 min­utes with only one pan to be washed at the end of it all.

Law­son has treated the orzo like a risotto, cook­ing it in just enough liq­uid to plump and soften the small pieces of rice-shaped pasta com­pletely with­out the has­sle of boil­ing them separately. Even bet­ter than risotto, though, is that this dish re­quires very lit­tle stir­ring. So, while din­ner is cook­ing, I can be tidy­ing the kitchen (OK, un­likely), mak­ing a side salad (some­what likely) or check­ing Twit­ter and In­sta­gram (very likely).

And by the time I’m caught up on so­cial me­dia, the pasta just needs a bit of but­ter to round out the flavours and a sprin­kling of Parme­san for some ex­tra rich­ness and salti­ness. I al­ways top mine with fresh cracked pep­per for a lit­tle bit of spice, then eat a bowl­ful with a spoon.

I’m sure it would make a great side dish, but, I con­fess, I al­ways just eat it straight up, want­ing noth­ing to get in the way of the ease of cook­ing the dish and the lux­u­ri­ous taste.

And then I re­mind my­self to pick up more pancetta the next time I see it, just to make sure I’m ready for the next crav­ing.

Gwen­dolyn Richards/Cal­gary Herald

Orzo risotto, from Nigella Law­son’s book, is pasta mas­querad­ing as a risotto. The tra­di­tional Ar­bo­rio rice swapped for orzo, a rice-shaped pasta.

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