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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fun With Orzo

Pastas come in all shapes and sizes. Did you know there is a reason for this? The shape actually determines how the pasta will hold the sauce. Ridged pastas hold thinner sauces best but shape goes well beyond that. The shape of the pasta determines the dish. Quick lasagna is lovely but lasagna made using actual lasagna noodles is always better!


Orzo was originally made from barley where the name came from. It is sometimes call Italian rice because of its shape. Orzo is a rice shaped pasta made from hard wheat semolia. While it is not rice orzo is a good substitute for rice. You can get the rich, creaminess texture of a risotto in a lot less time yet orzo stands up nicely in a salad or soup. So this really is one pasta shape you want on your pantry shelves because of its versatility.

Pictured is uncooked orzo to give you an idea of the shape and size. As with most dried pastas orzo is relatively inexpensive. Do keep in mind when cooked orzo is larger than rice so while it is a good substitute is still different. It does cook considerably faster than rice!

orzo with baked chicken and mango chutneyOrzo with Baked Chicken

Last Thursday my husband was away so I decided on a bit simpler meal for myself. Orzo just fit in with that plan nicely. Cooking for one does not need to be time consuming or boring! I put two chicken legs with backs attached in the oven to bake. When finished I paired the chicken with an easy orzo side dish reminiscent of risotto by simply draining the cooking orzo then stirring in butter, dried parsley along with a little salt and pepper. I added one of the chicken legs with backs attached to the side then topped with mango chutney.

Despite cooking for one this really was a nice meal. The orzo was rich and creamy with the mango chutney adding interest without overpowering. In hindsight I think stirring in a bit of plain yogurt with the orzo would have given just that extra. Oh and that mango chutney is a real keeper! Talk about a lovely flavour!

Cooking for one is always a challenge and even more so when you have been used to cooking for a larger family. In this case I actually cooked enough for two planning on left-overs. What is very tempting when eating alone is to ignore presentation. This really is a time when presentation becomes a bit more important because you are sending yourself the message that you are worth the extra effort. Thank goodness I don't have to eat alone a lot but hey it happens. I fell into the trap of eating meals alone in front of the computer or television, essentially multi-tasking and not really enjoying my food. Now I actually plan ahead for dinners I know I will be eating alone. Normally I do cook extra because my husband will take the left overs for lunch. Then I set the table properly unless I decide to eat in the sunporch or on the dock and set that properly as well. I also garnish exactly as I would if someone else was dining with me. Garnishing is one of those things that honestly those cooking for one is just too easy to omit yet it really gives that great eye appeal. So if you are cooking for one, do a bit of pampering. Set the table, turn off the television, use garnishes and enjoy your food!

Summer SaladSummer Salad

It's kind of funny that one of our kids almost goes in the same cooking trends I do. Last week I was really into orzo and I really wanted to make taco salad but didn't get the chance. We visited the kids on Sunday and it was like they had read my mind.

They served grilled hot dogs for lunch along with a really nice orzo salad. I'm not a huge hot dog fan but I will tell you that salad was awesome! It was made with boiled, drained orzo with chopped tomatoes, onions, red and yellow peppers, cucumbers and sweet peas. Tying it together was a simple homemade vinaigrette at only 2 tbsp for a large bowlful. The results were just delightful! This summer salad is definitely something I will be doing a bit of tweaking. I'm thinking a nice vinaigrette made with Herbs de Province would be nice but with the herb garden going fresh herbs will definitely be on the agenda!

3 food lovers commented:

nipsy said...

With all the cooking I do, using Orzo was something I was never quite sure how to do!! Now that I know its easy, you can be sure it will be cooked up sometime soon.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

That summer salad looks good! I have most of a box of orzo in the cupboard because DH didn't like it. But I do.

Sharkbytes said...

The orzo salad is yummy. I put in yellow squash too.