Orzotto is just risotto made with orzo pasta instead of rice --- that is to say, small bits of starchy goodness cooked in a flavorful broth. It may or may not include vegetables, meat, or other ingredients, but what's especially great about it is that you can cook an entire meal in one pot. This orzotto recipe was modified from "Perfect Pasta", a Favorite Recipes booklet of the kind my mom is prone to impulse buying at the supermarket checkout (it had lots of pretty pictures).
Orzotto with Herbs and Mushrooms
- medium-sized pot or rice cooker (I used the latter, mostly set to cook but occasionally turned to the "keep warm" setting)
- something to stir with
- knife for cutting up vegetables
- cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- olive oil
- 1 package (1 lb, 16 oz) orzo
- 3 cups vegetable broth (1 used a bouillon cube suitable for 1 liter)
- 5-10 mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- Italian seasoning (dried oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage and other green herbs)
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- fresh ground black pepper
- fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in the pot or rice cooker on medium heat, until the onion is transparent. If this looks like making a mirepoix, well, that's because it is.
Add the orzo and stir everything together for a minute or so.
Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. (If necessary, lower the heat to control the boil.) Let cook 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently but not constantly, until the pasta is tender but still firm.
Add the rest of the vegetables (mushrooms and green pepper) and stir and cook until they're just tender.
Add the butter, yogurt, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Maybe a little water if it's looking too dry. Stir it all together and let it cook for another minute or two.
Serve with fresh-grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
The original recipe called for herbed cheese spread instead of yogurt, and cream instead of butter. It also suggested adding white wine at the cream step, and cutting up some prosciutto and adding that in at the last minute. It also suggested multicolored bell peppers (red and yellow) instead of carrots and celery, but everything worked out just fine anyway.
If you want to turn this dish into a bland mush vaguely resembling tuna noodle casserole, add an undrained can of chunk light tuna in water. I did this to the leftovers and was sorely disappointed; however, I suspect that had I been more in the mood for tuna casserole, it would have completely and utterly rocked my world as only comfort food can. Now you know.
sneff informs me that there is an identical pasta shape to orzo called risoni. Orzo means "barley" because the pasta looks like the grain, whereas risoni is named for rice. So if you can't find orzo, try risoni instead. And if you're still striking out, try making this with rice and calling it a risotto instead. Let me know how it turns out!