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Orzo Risotto with Peas, Prosciutto and Pine Nuts

To my relief a great family meal. One child wants rice, the other noodles. What to do? Okay, peas are a hit. Bacon too. I don’t like bacon, but I love prosciutto. Okay. Solution. Orzo. Abundant in Greece. Risotto too. Aahh relief. Orzo risotto. Yes, a family vacation with culinary possibilities despite only have 3 pots, and one mini skillet. I mean mini. 1 fried egg mini. So salads, noodles, rice. Let’s see what I can whip together. My creativity is tested, mostly due to the pleasing four people, I mean the two kids factor.

So what is orzo? Actually it’s dried pasta. “Orzo” is Italian and means barley because the grains are very similar in looks to barley. It’s simply untreated durum wheat semolina. Since it is so abundant in Greece, there is clearly also a Greek name – yes, it’s Kritharaki.

In Germany, orzo is found under the name of “Reisnudeln” (rice noodles) in the supermarket. In any case, it is the healthy variety of pasta – but since it is a pasta rather than a whole grain, it’s not quite as healthy from that perspective. Though it’s lightweight and due to its extremely small size, it’s easy to digest. So dig in and enjoy this tasty combo!

TIP: Not all orzo is created the same. To avoid a very sticky pitfall, be sure to use top-quality dried pasta. From my experience, pasta tends to stick when an inferior quality of wheat is used. There are also some gluten-free varieties of orzo made from lentil flour, or quinoa flour.

Orzo Risotto with Peas, Prosciutto and Pine Nuts

ORZO RISOTTO WITH PEAS, PROSCIUTTO AND PINE NUTS
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6-8 green onions, white part only, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
80 g prosciutto di Parma (6 slices), coarsely chopped
2 cups dried orzo pasta (450 g)
1/2 cup dry white wine (125 ml)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (625 ml)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (120 g)
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan (or more, if desired)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
handful pine nuts, roasted

METHOD:
1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add prosciutto and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

2. Add orzo and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine evaporates, about 1 minute.

3. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the orzo absorbs the broth, about 20 minutes.

4. Add peas, cheese, and butter; reduce heat to low and cook until cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Serve immediately into four bowls, garnish with roasted pine nuts and enjoy!

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