Toasted Orzo with Asparagus Recipe. Orzo is toasted in butter and cooked risotto-style with chicken broth and finished off with asparagus. Great as a side dish or meat-free dinner option. Perfect for beginner cooks.
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 the vegetables without an issue as well. Asparagus and peas are my favorite vegetable to mix in. You could even add some protein and turn it into a one-pot main dish.
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 or couscous in that case. Ancini de pepe is 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 once I add frozen peas it tightens up quickly.
Fresh asparagus will take longer for the dish to cool and thicken.
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 my parmesan 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, dishcloths, or whatever it is you choose to clean your pans with.
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Toasted Orzo with Asparagus
- 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 the 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. Re-cover the 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.