Let’s look at some great vegan and vegetarian orzo recipes. Orzo is a pasta that actually looks like a grain of rice, though it is slightly bigger than a grain of rice. About twice or thrice the size of rice, but smaller than a pine nut.
Historically, orzo has been used with ragus, which is an Italian meat sauce (shameful ;)). Orzo is also tossed into soups and used in casseroles.
To be honest with you guys, orzo is one of my least favourite ways to have pasta. It confuses me eating something that small that looks like rice but tastes like pasta!
The key with cooking pasta and this is especially important with orzo is not to overcook it. Nobody likes a mushy pasta. Pasta should always be al dente ideally, and this can get finicky when you’re cooking vegan orzo or any orzo for that matter.
The simplest way to enjoy orzo is to have it as regular pasta and enjoy it with a nice vegan ragu sauce.
You can make your own by taking tomato paste, a can of chopped tomatoes some peas and onions and vegan ground meat substitute. You fry up the onions, toss in everything else and then warm thoroughly. Cook the orzo according to package directions. I find around 10 minutes is around when your orzo is at a good al dente texture.
You can also just use a nice jar of pasta sauce with or without your vegan ground meat and that is often how I enjoy my pastas. Simple, quick and easy.
As mentioned earlier, orzo goes well in soups too. Take a nice vegan vegetable soup and toss in a half cup or more of orzo in the last 10 minutes of cooking and you have a great vegan soup with orzo.
Orzo works well in chunky vegetable soups as well as my homemade vegan soup. The Italians are also renowned for their pasta e fagioli which is pasta with beans. A nice bean soup with orzo added is a treat and you can also just serve a nice thick bean sauce over orzo for something “dryer”. Lentil soup as well as tomato soup take very well to orzo surprisingly.
I haven’t really used orzo much in casseroles. I just find I don’t eat that many casseroles anymore to be honest.
Which brings me to my recipe du jour. Let’s take a look at my favourite vegan orzo recipe.
Lime’s no crime when you’re packing orzo
Lime in my humble opinion is an underused ingredient in cooking but it really lifts up flavours and leaves a clean palette.
2 cups orzo
1 16 ounce can of stewed, chopped tomatoes
1.5 cups of vegetable broth – I use a bouillon cube in water
1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
1 cup finely chopped broccoli
0.5 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano and thyme
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
parsley for decoration
salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the cauliflower and broccoli and fry for another minute or 2 max. You just want the veggies ever so browned.
Add the green onions and fry for another minute. Now add the vegetable stock and the tomatoes.
Add Italian seasoning or oregano/thyme as well as salt and pepper and stir in the orzo. Let simmer and cook for around 10 minutes. Most of the liquid should be absorbed. It it gets too dry add some more water.
Just before serving take off heat and add the lime juice and lime zest and stir it in well. Serve in big hearty bowls for large satisfying servings.
Makes 4 delicious servings.