Orzo is petty good, don’t you agree? This little rice-shaped pasta has an elegance that eludes other pastas. I was delighted to find another way to cook this star in Jerusalem, the cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.
Rice is a staple of many of the communities of the Middle East and features in quite complex dishes as well as very simple ones. Quite often, other ingredients like chickpeas, vermicelli, potatoes, lentils and nuts are are cooked with the rice.
Spices are also used, for example the Bucharan Jews in Jerusalem use ginger, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon with mint, raisins and peas. How delicious!
In this recipe, the usual vermicelli is replaced by Ottolenghi and Tamimi by orzo. Don’t confuse this orzo with the Greek barley – it is the Italian pasta version. You can use vermicelli if you like, just don’t fry them as long as they will burn.
Are you looking for more? Explore our Ottolenghi recipes, all of our Orzo dishes, our Rice recipes, and all of our Middle Eastern dishes. Or simply spend some time browsing our Mid Autumn collection of dishes.
Rice and Orzo
250g basmati rice or other long grained or non-sticky rice
85g orzo (also called risoni – rice-shaped pasta)
2 Tblspn ghee
600ml stock or water
Wash the rice well, then soak in plenty of cold water for 30 mins. Drain.
Heat the ghee over medium-high heat in a heavy based saucepan. Add the orzo and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes, until the grains turn dark golden.
Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook the orzo for 3 minutes.
Add the drained rice and salt to taste, bring back to the boil, stir once or twice, cover the pan and cook on a very low heat for 15 mins. DON’T LIFT THE LID; you need the rice to steam properly.
Remove from the heat, lift the lid and quickly cover with a clean tea towel. Put the lid back on top of the towel and leave for 10 mins. Fluff up the rice before serving.
recipe notes and alternatives
Add chopped onion and garlic to the orzo as you sauté it.
Stir through chopped herbs such as flat leafed parsley, coriander, sweet basil or Thai basil. You could also use small amounts of Tulsi, or young spinach, young spinach stems (chopped), young beetroot leaves, etc.
Finely diced vegetables such as carrots can be added with the rice.