Toasted Orzo Risotto with Asparagus is an easy recipe that can be altered to suit the meal you plan to serve it with. I have successfully used beef broth in place of chicken broth for beef based main dishes.
Who knew that eventually, this form of cheater risotto would eventually turn into a trendy new dish called Pastasotto. Makes sense, pasta plus risotto. We have been eating this in our house for 15 or more years.
Parmesan can be added, but I don’t find the extra calories or sodium necessary. Slow simmering provides all the creaminess and the flavored broth provides all the flavor you will need. Add a touch of Parmesan on top rather than mixed in.
I have changed out vegetables without an issue as well. You could even add some protein and turn it into a one-pot main dish.
This version of orzo looks like you worked hard and kind of reminds me of risotto without all the hard work which is why we call it toasted orzo risotto, others would now it call it pastasotto.
When I think of risotto I hear Gordon Ramsey in the background talking about incompetence. His shows may have scarred me for life and scared me away from ever attempting to make risotto. I’ll stick to orzo. The success rate of this version of risotto is quite high.
Orzo is a versatile dish and one that would be great for new cooks to experiment with.
Just be sure to stay with it the first few times you make it so that you don’t let it sit too long in the pan without liquid. The pasta will stick to the bottom of the pan and start to burn.
After making this a few times you will have a feel for how long you can leave it unattended.
The dish takes on a whole different layer of flavors when you allow the orzo to toast. When I am not in a huge hurry or starving, I will cook until most of the orzo is toasted and some of it a deep brown.
My favorite brand of orzo is by Rice Select, there are other brands that will work, but avoid the orzo that looks like broken pieces of spaghetti. You would be better off with some ancini di pepe in this recipe. The exact same pasta we use in Frog Eye Soup. There needs to be some substance to the pasta or it will turn into mush.
The pasta will soak in more liquid as it cools, so if it looks too runny or wet it will be fine. I actually find that one I add frozen peas it tightens up quickly.
Fresh asparagus will take longer for the dish to cool. A quick way to get asparagus ready for this dish is to grab each stalk of asparagus in the middle and gently snap the ends off. It will naturally break just past the hard and woody stem piece. You can cut into pieces from there, or just continue snapping the asparagus as you would green beans.
1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese can be added at the end of cooking. Just stir the pasta until the Parmesan cheese is melted. I prefer mine sprinkled on top rather than mixed in, it also keeps the pan easier to clean. Parmesan cheese, when cooked inside of a dish, has a tendency to stick to the cooking vessel. It gets stuck on your kitchen sponges, dish clothes, or whatever it is you choose to clean your pans with.
Garnish with fresh basil if you happen to have any growing. When I do have some growing fresh, I add it, but it is not a real deal breaker if you don;t have any.Print
Toasted Orzo Risotto with Asparagus
Toasted orzo simmered in broth, perfect alternative to risotto.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1 cups Orzo Pasta
- 2 cans Condensed Chicken or Beef Broth
- 1/2 bunch fresh Asparagus
- 2 Cups Water, more water may need to be added to finish cooking pasta
- In a skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Once melted, add orzo and toss to coat with butter. Continue to cook, stirring frequently over medium-high heat until at least half of the orzo is lightly browned.
- Add 1 can condensed broth. Reduce heat to low and cover. Uncover and stir every couple of minutes, recovering after stirring. When liquid is mostly absorbed into the pasta, add the other can of condensed broth. Uncover and stir every couple of minutes, recovering after stirring. If more liquid is needed, add water 1/2 cup at a time, covering and simmering as previously until pasta is cooked to your preferred tenderness.
- When pasta is done, toss in asparagus or peas. Recover pan and allow the heat from the pasta to cook the chosen vegetable.
I substitute asparagus with frozen peas on occasion, any frozen or fresh quick cooking vegetable can be used.
- Serving Size: 1 Cup
- Calories: 164
- Sugar: 2.36 g
- Sodium: 985 mg
- Fat: 7.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 4.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 14.7 g
- Fiber: 1.9 g
- Protein: 9.3 g
- Cholesterol: 15 g
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