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