No Nonsense Orzo

I forgot how much I love Orzo. I also forgot how easy it is to make. It’s great because it’s so versatile. You can throw just about anything in it and it’s always fantastic. It can be loaded with meat, meatless, vegan, dairy free, or loaded with all your favorite cheese. Why, you could even make some basic plain Orzo and have an Orzo Smorgasbord and let everyone hunt for their own ingredients. Think of all the scraps of leftover meat and veggies you can clear from your fridge! Doesn’t that sound exciting!

Last Sunday, I was looking for something to make with my chicken sausage and some random veggies. I found a box of Orzo and my decision was made.  I put this recipe on the moderately fussy end of the scale. I mean, ten steps? Plus, you can’t just throw everything in a pan and walk away. You have to pay attention. You also can’t let the Orzo cook too fast or it won’t have that delightful creamy texture that is the trademark of perfect Orzo.

Orzo with Sausage and Veggies
1 lb sausage
1 cup leeks, chopped and rinsed
2 cups fennel, sliced with fronds reserved for garnish
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 TBSP olive oil
3 1/2 cups broth
2 cups Orzo
2 TBSP butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Heat the olive oil on medium in a pan big enough to hold all the ingredients.
2. Add sausage and cook thoroughly. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Cook veggies in the same pan until both the fennel and leeks are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside with sausage.
4. Pour uncooked Orzo into the pan and stir around until coated with the oil, etc.
5. Add 1 1/2 cups broth and cook on low until the broth is absorbed by the orzo. Stir a lot!
6. Add 1 cup of broth and, still on low, cook until that’s also absorbed. Keep stirring!
7. One more time! Add the last cup of broth and at the same temperature, cook until the broth is absorbed. Don’t stop stirring! The orzo should look creamy and be soft. If it’s too hard, add 1/2 cup more broth or water. That should be enough.
8. Add butter and Parmesan. Stir until incorporated.
9. Add veggies and sausage and heat until nice and hot! You can turn the heat up a bit but stay close. You don’t want this to burn after all the watching and stirring you’ve been doing.
10. Garnish with those cute little fennel fronds (That’s what the green things in the picture are.)

The fat from the sausage is kind of important part of the recipe so if you are making a meat free version of this, please add a little more oil or perhaps a pat of butter to your veggie saute.

I hope you will be daring with this! Seriously, open your fridge right now and see what’s hiding. Is there a lone chicken breast or two from a meal earlier in the week? Maybe some Italian sausage? Spinach? Zucchini? Onion? Gather up any pound of meat and any three cups of chopped veggies and have fun!

I can’t wait to hear what you try!

Enjoy!

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