Orzo looks like rice and can do anything rice can do, but it’s actually pasta and is quicker to prepare than it’s grainy cousin. Orzo is easy to prepare, absorbs other food flavors easily and can be combined with other ingredients for easy meal-in-a-bowl ideas that will please even finicky eaters.
Meat Lover’s Bowl
Cook orzo in low-sodium chicken broth instead of water for any punch of meat flavor. Dice and sauté in hot olive oil pieces of spicy meats like Italian sausage or pepperoni. Add diced onions, garlic and bell peppers to the meat as its cooking, salt and pepper to taste. Stir into a bowl of cooked orzo and serve with crusty bread. If you want less spice, sauté other cuts of meat in olive oil, like chicken breast or flank steak. Stir in halved cherry tomatoes, squash slices and mushrooms and mix into a bowl of cooked orzo for a tamer meat lover’s bowl.
Veggie Lover’s Bowl
Cook orzo in salted water. While pasta is cooking, sauté or grill diced veggies like bell peppers, green peas or beans, carrots, onions and zucchini. Toss cooked orzo with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice, then stir in cooked vegetables of choice and top with slices of raw cucumber and halved cherry tomatoes.
Cheese Lover’s Bowl
A healthier version of mac and cheese, but just as tasty. Cook orzo, then toss in a saucepan that has melted butter, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Heat through, tossing to combine. Spoon into a bowl and top with a few thin slices of aged Parmesan. To bulk up the cheese lover’s bowl, sauté a little garlic in the butter before adding cooked orzo or mix in cooked, crumbled bacon into the meal-in-a-bowl.
Orzo Salad Bowl
Cooked orzo in water or low-sodium chicken stock (your choice), drain and toss with a couple of tablespoons of your favorite pesto. Add drained and rinsed chick peas, toasted pine nuts, sliced almonds, diced green onions, diced celery, sliced olives, edamame and halved cherry tomatoes. Toss again to combine (add a splash of vinaigrette if desired). Serve hot or cold, makes a great take-along lunchtime meal-in-a-bowl.