Orzo is an underrated pasta in my opinion, in the UK anyway. It’s one I didn’t really cook with a lot in the past, but it’s actually quite a versatile type of pasta, traditionally used in soups and broths, it actually also works really well for lighter, summer dishes.
For this recipe I’ve used Garofalo pasta, as I’m working with them to create a number of recipes to share with you all. Garofalo’s orzo is made from 100% durum wheat semolina, they pride themselves on the quality of the grains they use from Italy, USA and Australia – choosing wheat that contributes to the excellent quality of pasta by its colour, cleanliness and flavour.
A few quick facts about Orzo
- Orzo is Italian for ‘barley’, because its shape is similar to that of a barley grain.
- Traditionally used in broths and soups
- Works well as an alternative to risotto or as a pasta salad style dish
You’ll see on a lot of Garofalo’s pasta packaging ‘Bronze Die Cut’, this is referring to the method the shape is produced and it’s by passing the pasta dough through a bronze drawing (extruder) to create the shape, creating a rougher surface and better quality pasta than when using a teflon version. In most instances this creates a higher quality pasta, that will hold its shape and sauce better than some other pastas. You’ll mainly notice this difference compared to supermarket own brand pastas where they tend to be produced using the teflon drawings as it’s quicker and cheaper.
I know many people see pasta as a great quick, cheaper dish, which it of course can be and that is the beauty of it, but quality pasta makes a big difference to the overall meal.
You can find out more about how Garofalo make their pasta and see their full range online. You can also stock up on Ocado or Amazon.
Recipe (serves 4)
This recipe is perfect for mid week and shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes to make, the more you make it the easier it will become too, plus you can freeze any spare meatballs.
If you only want to make this dish for two I recommend making the full batch of meatballs and freezing half of them, then half the ingredients below.
For the meatballs
- 500g pork mince
- 1 egg
- 100g breadcrumbs
- Small bunch of Fresh Thyme (pick the leaves)
- 1 lemon
For the orzo
- 400g orzo
- 1 Courgette
- 1 small onion
- 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Start by making your meatballs in a bowl, combine the pork mince, breadcrumbs, half of the freshly picked thyme leaves, zest of one lemon, salt and pepper for seasoning, and mix together.
- Add the egg and combine together. With wet hands roll into meatballs, you should be able to make about 24 meatballs.
- I find it easier to cook these in the oven while preparing the rest of the dish. Heat a fan oven to 180°C and cook for 20 minutes (you may want to turn them half way through).
- Whilst they’re in the oven finely chop an onion and slice your courgette into quarters. I like using yellow courgette with this dish but green will work just as well.
- Add some olive oil to a pan and slowly cook the onions, after 5 minutes add the courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining fresh thyme and then the orzo, stir in, and add half the stock, season with salt and pepper.
- Allow to simmer for ten minutes, add more stock as required to stop drying out.
- Add the juice of one lemon, and more stock if required.
- Add the meatballs and stir together.
- Check the orzo is cooked, you should have a silky consistency and the pasta should be al dente.
- Serve and top with some more fresh thyme.
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