Quite often confused with rice, orzo is a short-cut and petite pasta that is often used in place of other grains. Also known as risoni, this little pasta, or pastina, is a wonderful base for many of my favorite meals. If you’re curious about this grain alternative, take a deep dive with me into what is orzo? And how can it be used in recipes?

Of course, I’m using my favorite quality RiceSelect® Orzo to help me do that job. I can trust that the quality will always meet my meal standards to serve up a bit of spontaneous brilliance.

What is Orzo?

To start, orzo is a pasta offering enormous culinary potential made with 100% enriched durum semolina wheat. However, there are other varieties, including Whole Wheat Orzo made with whole wheat flour and Tri-color Orzo, which is enriched with red tomato and vibrant green spinach.

Orzo can be used in a wide variety of recipes such as mixed bowls, soups, salads, casseroles, and delicious side dishes — perfect for creating unforgettable meals.

What is the difference between orzo and rice?

The shape of orzo may resemble a large grain of rice; however, while both are rich in carbohydrates, these two plant-based ingredients are quite different. Apart from their composition, rice does not contain gluten, whereas pasta, made from wheat, does. No matter if I opt for orzo or rice, I know it all depends on the quality of the process, and I can trust RiceSelect® to provide me with premium quality.

How to Cook Orzo

With a cook time of 10 minutes, this versatile pasta can stand on its own as a delicious meal or help elevate your next culinary creation. Using 2 quarts of water and 1 cup of orzo, simply bring the water to a boil, add salt and orzo. In just 8-10 minutes, 1 cup of dry pasta yields approximately 3 cups of cooked orzo.

Authentic Orzo Recipes

If you’re like me, you’ve heard enough and you’re ready to delve into how to use this pasta! I’ll share some of my favorite ways to use it to complete your meals.

Orzo Risotto

While traditional Italian risotto is made with Signature Arborio Rice, there are other versions made with orzo! Try this incredible Orzo and Kale Risotto using leafy green kale with dry white wine, garlic and plenty of Parmesan cheese.

Orzo Salad

Orzo is also a wonderful addition to salads for a delicious hearty touch. If you’re looking for a vegetarian side, try this Orzo Primavera made with a mix of spring colors from freshly sliced vegetables, herbs and Parmesan.

Or, for something with a bit more of a home chef’s touch, try this Orzo Chef Salad using pasta, olives, cheese, turkey and a homemade vinaigrette. I almost always use my own handcrafted dressing or vinaigrette, because they can be prepared in minutes with just mustard, vegetable oil, salt, pepper and vinegar.

Mediterranean Orzo

With its origins in the Mediterranean, it’s no wonder that orzo wonderfully complements the tastes and vibrant colors of a variety of coastal cuisines. Whether it's a Mediterranean-style orzo pasta salad like this Minted Orzo with Tomatoes, sautéed into a savory rice pilaf, tossed with grilled vegetables or chicken, or served as a bed for Beef Kabobs with Parmesan Orzo, you’re bound to make something incredible.

Orzo Soup

Orzo also works wonderfully in hearty soup recipes. It can be a veggie-loaded minestrone or even a one-pot chicken and orzo soup recipe. For a perfect mix of creamy and comforting, try this Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup recipe – it’s one of my absolute favorites! Utilizing just a few simple and fresh ingredients, transport yourself with Greek-inspired flavors like citrus lemon chicken and orzo pasta in a luscious broth.

Orzo Stuffing

Another delicious way to take advantage of orzo pasta is by using it as a filling or stuffing. It can be a wonderfully hearty option for anything from stuffed peppers and tomatoes to these Orzo stuffed Zucchini Boats.

I love finding new ways to enhance my meals with traditional ingredients like orzo or other pasta varieties. Find more recipes like these with my favorite RiceSelect varieties on their website.

If you are looking for a great dinner idea try our salmon risotto or learn how to make couscous.