26 May 2006

ôr’zō


Sublimely silky and shiny, orzo is genre-defying.
It looks like rice! But it’s not rice! It’s pasta! But it looks like rice! But it tastes better than pasta!

After I assembled this delicious little orzo salad today, I started to wonder about how orzo came to be. And also I wonder how its creators came up with such a neat name for it. Orzo. Orzo. Orzo. What a great word!
Now that you, like me, might be wondering about the history of orzo, you may be expecting some answers. I am afraid I do not have any answers for you. Just now I spent a considerable amount of my evening researching the beginnings of orzo and the best story I found was one about an ancient restaurant owner who shellacked some pasta in order to display it appetizingly in his restaurant window, but then a stegosaurus came by and smashed the brittle pasta into bits with his tail. And that is how orzo came to be. I wonder if the stegosaurus’ name was Orzo. Probably.

Now that you have been enlightened, here is an easy recipe for a mouthwatering salad. There's a nice crunch from the carrots, celery and walnuts, but the sweet, golden raisins are why I keep making this salad.

Orzo with Golden Raisins.
Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 minced garlic clove (or more if you want a kickier taste)
1 heaping teaspoon honey Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup olive oil

Salad:
1 ½ cups orzo
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
1 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts)
½ cup diced celery
½ cup walnuts (you can toast them if you want to)
½ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons of chopped dill or parsley

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain orzo. Rinse with cold water if you are assembling the salad right away.

While the orzo is boiling, whisk the first 4 ingredients of the vinaigrette together. Add the olive oil in a slow stream while whisking. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine ingredients of the salad in a large bowl.
Add the vinaigrette, but don't add it all! If you do, your salad will be too slimy. You will probably have about a quarter cup of vinaigrette left over. Today I saved a portion of it for a future leafy salad. It is a rather tasty vinaigrette.

4 comments:

Peter S. said...

I agree! Orzo was a favorite in my family when I was growing up, and it's still right up there. Its uncategorizability was a large part of its appeal, but just recently I found out that Israeli "pearl" couscous makes a pretty dang good substitute.

For some reason, all I can think about right now is dessert. I wonder if you could make rice pudding out of orzo? Or bubble tea with pearl couscous? Or for that matter, ICE CREAM out of bubble tea???

Erielle said...

Once we tried to make chocolate risotto and it was GROSS and DUMB, so unfortunately, I will never try making dessert out of rice again. I don't know if that includes orzo or not.
I suppose rice pudding is different, though.

As for ice cream, if people can put bacon in ice cream, which has been done, then I don't think bubble tea would be out of the question. Do you think the bubbles would freeze? Is the wierd stuff inside them even freeze-able?

Tammy said...

...and now I'm caught up. Your blog rocks. I just added a link to you from mine (http://foodonthefood.typepad.com). Let me know if you mind.

(feel free to delete this comment -- didn't know how to e-mail you.)

SallyBR said...

Because I am a shy person, who does not blog, only surfs blogs, collects cookbooks, and cooks...

I am leaving a comment waaaay in the past, hoping only you will see it

:-)

Found your blog today (02/05/07), I am hooked. Totally hooked. Love it. Will spend my evening "catching up"