What comes to mind when you see or hear the word “Orzo.”
Could it be the 6 Orzo families who were living in New York City (USA) in the 1920’s.
Or could it be Caffè d’orzo – a type of hot drink, originating in Italy.
Most of us though think of the small, rice-shaped pasta that is traditionally used in soups or salads.
Orzo is a very versatile pasta that has been widely adapted by chefs in Italy and America for both main courses, as well as side dishes, including soups and pasta salads.
Though it originated in Italy – Orzo has been used in multiple cuisines such as Greek, Turkish and Spanish for centuries.
Isn’t Orzo Actually a Form of Rice
Simply put, Rice is rice, while orzo is rice-shaped pasta.
Rice and orzo share characteristics, but the two foods are not identical or the same.
Both rice and orzo are versatile and interchangeable.
Orzo can be used in place of rice to make a Pilaf or orzo can be a replacement to make a Risotto.
Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups dried orzo pasta
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups whole milk
2 cups packed baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.
Next, add the onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and orzo, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Next, stir in the broth and milk and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed and has formed a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions.
If the orzo isn’t completely cooked once this has happened, you can add another splash or two of broth to the pot and continue to simmer until it has.
Next add the spinach and Parmesan and stir in until the spinach has just wilted and the cheese melts, about 1 minute.
Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with additional cheese if desired.
This list is not complete, but there are many meatball recipes out there.
Do you question the hedgehog meatballs? Well, it really isn’t hedgehog, but as Anglea Day Kitchen says, “This recipe is so called, because when cooked, the rice sticks out, making them look like hedgehogs.”
2 1/4 pounds ground beef (can also use chicken, turkey, lamb, or pork)
Combine the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. Shape into balls about the size of a golf ball. Prepare sauce, and place meatballs into an ovenproof baking dish, then pour sauce over the meatballs.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, herbs, seasoning and sugar.
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and pour into a blender or food processor, and puree to a smooth sauce.
Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
Meatballs Are Not Only For Spaghetti
Spaghetti with meatballs is not an authentic Italian dish. As is bowls of olive oil set out for for dunking bread at Italian restaurants (USA), so is spaghetti served with a red sauce and topped with meatballs, both an American creation. The pasta recipe may have made its appearance in New York or New Jersey (USA) in the late 19th century.
Sue, owner and writer of “The View From Great Island” says, I love meatballs. They’re like little soldiers, all lined up, just waiting to be of service…” She even like’s these little bite sized Bourbon Meatballs which are drenched in apricot chili bourbon sauce, and she says, “They’re perfect for the cocktail hour.”
Image credit: The View From Great Island
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1/2 cup Ritz Cracker, finely crushed into crumbs (you can opt for plain bread crumbs)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
lots of fresh cracked pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 jar apricot preserves
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon hot chili sauce
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup water
Set oven to 350F
Put the above ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the meat as you put it in. Mix together, using the tips of your fingers to gently combine everything without compacting the meat. Form into small 1 inch balls.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs, working in batches. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through, about 160 degrees.
Place cooked meatballs into the sauce, and let heat through until ready to serve. Serve on a plate with toothpicks, a drizzle of sauce, and lots of napkins. Serve a bowl of sauce on the side for extra dipping.
To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until thick.
Sue even makes Herbed Meatballs and says, “You can eat these meatballs on pasta, on a split French roll with sauce and melted mozzarella, or all by themselves in a little bowl.”
Yes, meatballs are not just for topping a plate of spaghetti any more.
Arrange oven rack 6 inches from broiler heat source. Preheat broiler on high. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
In a medium bowl, combine pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper (both optional). Form pork mixture into bite-size meatballs (about 1 inch each). Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned.
Meanwhile, in covered 5-quart sauce pot, heat broth to simmering on high. Once the broth is simmering, add snow peas, rice, beans and cooked meatballs. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and snow peas are tender.
There’s even a – Meatball Stuffed Baked Potato – recipe found here at Homemade By Elle.
Enjoy some meatballs however you choose, this day – National Meatball Day!!
Today January 4th is National Spaghetti Day (USA). Were you aware that 1.3 million pounds of spaghetti was sold at the turn of the 21st century (USA)? All those packages together would circle the Earth nine times. Now that’s a lot of spaghetti.
Wikipedia writes that there is controversy in respects to the origin of spaghetti.
There are records in the Jerusalem Talmud of itrium, writing about a kind of boiled dough, being common in Palestine from the 3rd to 5th centuries A.D.
A 9th century dictionary written in Arabic describes itriyyaas, string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking.
Record keeping was done for Norman King of Sicily in 1154, and itriyya is mentioned being manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily.
By the 14th century pasta became popular, and was even taken on sea voyages due to its easy storage. A century later, pasta was present around the globe during the voyages of discovery. In Italian spaghetti means “little lines.”
Heat a saucepan over low heat. Add the olive oil, onion, carrot, and celery and saute over low heat until lightly caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add the pancetta and beef and cook, separating the meat into small pieces, until browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off most of the fat. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt.
Pour the wine into the beef mixture to deglaze the pan; stir to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes and stir in the cream, black pepper, and red-pepper flakes. Gently simmer for about 40 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
Start cooking the spaghetti when the sauce is within 10 minutes of being done. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.
Stir the butter into the bolognese sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Image Credit: A Cozy Kitchen – A Manual Spiralizer – Turning Zucchini Into Pasta Noodles
The spiralizer is a culinary gadget that has quickly become a must have in kitchens all around the world. Put simply, the spiralizer is a tool that allows a kitchen cook to turn vegetables into noodles. Lisa Richards author of The Candida Diet (www.thecandidadiet.com) says, “Quitting Refined Carbs? The Spiralizer Is Your New Best Friend.”
With the spiral slicer you can conjure up endless julienne strips of carrot, radish, cucumber, and all kinds of other firm vegetables. The unqiue spirals are perfect to create vegetable stir-fries or pasta.
The mechanism can be purchased as a manual counter top, hand held or even a julienne peeler.
The counter top spirlizer has sharp blades, that allows you to feed any kind of vegetable through the system, and the hand held has thin blades built into the plastic funnel like gadget, and the julienne peeler is much like a vegetable or fruit peeler.
How A Spirlizer Works
The mechanism is simple. The hand held is made in the shape much like a funnel. Place the vegetable at one end of the funnel, and firmly push the vegetable into the funnel while twisting the vegetable. The built-in blades will spiral the vegetable into noodles.
The counter top spiral is much the same. Using nothing more than gentle pressure, turn the handle and gently slide the vegetable through the spiralizing blades.
The julienne peeler is simple. Just hold the vegetable in one hand while placing the peeler at the top of the vegetable and slide it down over the surface of the produce.
What ever spiraler you chose, you will always be left with perfectly formed vegetable noodles ready for instant use. It really is that simple – there’s no chopping or preparation involved. Choose your vegetable and away you go!
Here are two recipes that we used a julienne spiral peeler to turn squash into vegetable noodles.
The first time we used pastaOrecchiette was around 2009. We had seen a recipe in a food magazine using the pasta, so to the store we went. We had a hard time finding it, but our local co-op (sell’s all natural – organic foods) had the pasta. When we described the pasta (as we had forgotten the name) the sales lady new right away what we wanted. She referred to the pasta as little pope hats. Ever since Orechiette has become a staple in our pantry.
About.com talks on Italian food and describes Orechiette as a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, as orecchio in Italian means eat, and Orecchiette means little ears. The pasta is roughly 3/4 of an inch across, slightly domed, and the centers are thinner than the rim of the pasta. The pastas texture is soft in the middle and more chewy along the rim or outside of the pasta.
Barilla (store brand that sells Italian products) says that Orecchiette is the signature pasta of Puglia, describing Puglia as a humble farming land situated along the southeastern coast of Italy.
Here is a video posted to You-Tube of Italian women in Italy making fresh Orechiette pasta.
Now for our featured recipe: Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas, and here is what you will need.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute, stirring often, until beginning to brown and smell fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo to pan and break up with a spoon, and cook meat until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
Next add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to meat mixture and mix in. Next add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Next add the can of chickpeas, and mix in, cooking 2 minutes more to heat the chickpeas through.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to packaged instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
Next add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to meat sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta liquid as needed. You might use the whole cup, and possibly less.
Serve pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.
We have had this for left overs a few times, and each time we add cilantro, cheese, and lemon zest. The zest adds great flavor to this dish. Be sure to use it.
According to Food History asparagus has a long history as far back as the first century. There are records of it growing in ancient Greece and Rome. History even records Egyptians over 2,000 years ago cultivated asparagus for medicinal reasons (Kitchen Project)
Of course most eatable plants were first discovered growing wild, and asparagus is no exception. A wild asparagus has thin shoots thinner than a pencil and is much different than the asparagus that we find in the market.
Through selective breeding and growing techniques, a modern non wild asparagus has a thicker stem with more edible flesh.
Asparagus is even a low carbohydrate food, and a 15 on the glycemic index, which is the rating of plant food and how it effects your blood glucose or insulin in the body (0-35 is low).
Now for our featured recipe, and here is what you will need.
8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Return the pasta to the pan that you cooked it in, and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until browned, but not crispy. Remove and place on paper towel lined plate to drain.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of grease from the skillet, and return to the stove. Add the chopped asparagus to the pan, stirring occasionally. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic to the skillet, and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the cooked asparagus, garlic, bacon, and Alfredo sauce to the pot of cooked pasta. Toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the saved pasta water to thin it out. Season to taste with Himalayan salt and pepper before serving (optional).
Here is a short video to demonstrate how tortellini is made. The video will present the preparation of Tortellini Bolognesi.
Nutritional Benefits of Tortellini
Regular cheese tortellini is pasta made from flour, though it does have some nutritional benefits.
This includes 72 mg of potassium, 20 mg of magnesium, also some small amounts of vitamins A and B-12, and including iron per 3/4 cup serving.
Recent studies have shown that a deficiency in vitamin B-12 can be associated with feelings of fatigue and low energy, including depression, irritability, anxiety, and dementia. So let’s eat some Tortellini.
Here’s three recipes from our kitchen to celebrate National Tortellini Day:
As with many recipes, the origins of the dish Spaghetti Carbonara and its name are uncertain or ambiguous. There are countless speculations as to the origin of the name, which some have concluded the name Spaghetti Carbonara may be more recent than the dish itself.
Yet another theory is Ippolito Cavalcanti a highly influential chef of nineteenth-century and Neapolitan cook book author, “Cucina Teorico-Pratica” (1839) which included a recipe for pasta with eggs and cheese.
The third edition book “On Cooking” (2003) written by Sarah Labensky, writes about techniques from expert chefs., and included are the variations of Spaghetti Carbonara. She says outside of Italy may chefs include the addition of other ingredients with Spaghetti Carbonara, such as peas, broccoli, mushrooms, or other vegetables.
Here at Splendid Recipes and More we tried to stick to the original recipe, though we did not include any black pepper. Here is what you will need.
Cook the spaghetti according package instructions. In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combined the eggs, cream, and cheese, then set aside.
Next, prepare bacon, and in a large skillet, cook cut bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate, and set aside.
Drain pasta, leaving some water clinging to it. Do not rinse pasta, but quickly add hot pasta back to a heated skillet and add the egg mixture along with the bacon, and toss to combine. The heat from the hot pasta will cook the eggs, though you don’t want the eggs to have a scrambled look.
Plate Spaghetti Carbonara on to a platter and serve immediately. You can sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if you desire.
Summer sausage is any sausage that can be kept without refrigeration. Summer sausage is usually a mixture of pork and other meat such as beef or venison.
The sausage can be dried or smoked, and while curing ingredients vary significantly, curing salt is almost always used. Seasonings may include mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic salt, or sugar.
Sausage has its origins since ancient times as a method of preserving meat.
Summer sausage is not necessarily made in the summer. It is made with meat scraps, and some makers will combine meats for efficiency and flavor variety.
Lean meat is used to ensure that the sausage does not become rancid during the curing process.
Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
Before making the vinaigrette, boil and cook the tortellini according to package instructions.
1 cup chopped seeded plum tomatoes
1 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Place the first 6 ingredients and 1/2 cup of the olive oil into a food processor. While processing, add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, and process until well blended. You can season to taste with salt and pepper. But as the sausage is curd with salt, you may not want to add any salt to the mixture. Set aside.
Prepare the tomatoes, seeding them, and then placed them first in the processor, and put the seeds and veins into a small strainer, and placed it over the opening of the processor to allow the tomato juice to drip off over the cut plum tomatoes.
Next slice sausage into small strips, and slice into threes, 1 cup medium olives.
Add 1 cup of tomato basil vinaigrette to bottom of a large serving bowl. Next add prepared sausage, and olives.
Add cooled tortellini to the bowl, and mix till ingredients are will coated well with basil mixture.