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Orzo and Quinoa

Our series on grains—alternatives to your usual rice preparation—concludes with orzo and quinoa.

Orzo

Orzo is Italian for barley.  It’s a rice-shaped pasta.  It looks like rice, can be cooked like rice and can be served as rice.  It is available in supermarkets, most often packaged with three colors of orzo—pale red, green and white. 

Orzo can be substituted for rice in our rice pilaf recipe, same preparation and same ratio of grain to water (1:1.5).  Orzo pilaf is a nice accompaniment to meat and poultry dishes with sauce.  It also  works well with sautéed veggies.   Next time your menu calls for a side of rice, do orzo instead.

Orzo Pilaf
Yield:  2 servings
See Abbreviations, if needed

•   1C     orzo (note the ratio of orzo to liquid is 1:1.5)
•   1T      butter 
•   1        medium sized shallot (or small onion), finely chopped
•   1t       thyme leaves
•   1        bay leaf
•             salt and freshly ground pepper
•   1.5C  chicken stock or chicken broth 

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Sauté shallots in butter to translucent 
3. Add orzo and coat the grains with the butter 
4. Add chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves and S/P. (Don’t salt if using canned broth.)
5. Stir and BTB
6. Cover tightly and place in oven for 17 minutes 
7. Remove from oven, keep covered and warm until ready to serve



Quinoa

Quinoa [KEEN-wa] is a popular grain in South American cuisine.  It came north a few years ago billed by organic vendors as the super grain of the future, bound to become a staple in healthy diets.  According to Sharon Tyler Herbst, in Barron’s Food Lover’s Companion, quinoa contains more protein than any other grain.  It is high in unsaturated fats and low in carbohydrates, and it “provides a rich and balanced source of vital natural nutrients.”  In short, this stuff is a natural food of remarkable political correctness.  But, alas, it is also hard to find, which suggests that it remains a niche grain.  The local natural food store, which carries all things organic, no longer stocks quinoa in bulk.  Since I plan to use the stuff in a cooking class this winter, I needed more to play with.  My source is now Bob’s Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com).  Bob says that his quinoa is grown in Colorado

As with rice and orzo, quinoa can be prepared as a pilaf.  Indeed, since the stuff tastes rather bland, the addition of butter, shallots, salt and pepper makes quinoa a real contender as a rice alternative.  When done, the grains should be firm but tender, having turned from white to transparent with spiral-like germ separation—a very nice and appetizing appearance. 

Quinoa Pilaf
Yield:  2 servings
See Abbreviations, if needed
·   1C  quinoa  (note the ratio of quinoa to liquid is 1:2)
·   4t    butter
·   1     medium sized shallot (or small onion), finely chopped
·   1t    thyme leaves
·          freshly ground pepper
·   1t    salt (much less if using canned broth)
·   2C  chicken stock or canned broth

1.  Preheat oven to 400F
2.  Rinse and strain quinoa
3.  Sauté shallots in butter to translucent
4.  Add quinoa and coat grains with the butter
5.  Add chicken stock, thyme leaves,  salt and pepper 
6.  Stir and BTB
7.  Cover tightly and place in oven for 17 minutes 
8.  Remove from oven, keep covered and warm until ready to serve


 


 

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