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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Creamy Orzo

I received Everyday Pasta by Giada De Lauretiis from my MIL.  I have yet to find a disappointing recipe of Giada's!  I really love orzo pasta, and the taste and texture of this dish are just great.  I try to avoid using heavy cream except in desserts but decided to try it the first time.  It was a little too creamy for my taste, so I've included suggestions below on how to lighten it up a bit. 

When I was shopping for the ingredients, I noticed "petite peas" in the freezer case.  I tend to like anything 'mini,' so of course I opted for them, and I loved their smaller size and sweeter taste.  It wasn't until several days later that I picked up a copy of Cooks Illustrated my mom had given me and noticed an article on petite peas, also called petit pois or baby sweet peas, and how their taste testers found them to be sweeter and less starchy than regular-sized peas. I found this quite amusing and will be using them from now on.

I halved this recipe but used the full amount of shallot and garlic as not to waste them.

Creamy Orzo

1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)*
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained**
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (regular or petite)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

*I like Barilla brand for orzo because the 'grains' of pasta are small.  I bought Prince brand once and don't like how big they are.

**I like using petite cut diced tomatoes so there aren't big chunks.

1. Bring a large, heavy saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. 

3. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the Parmesan cheese to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Note:  For a lighter version, you could try replacing some or all of the heavy cream with fat-free half-and-half, milk, or a mixture of cottage cheese and milk (seen here at Cara's Cravings).

Source:  Adapted from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis


  1. Giada's marinara sauce is the best I've ever tasted. I make big batches and freeze them.

  2. This looks fantastic! I love the peas in it - is spring here yet? :)

    I can never bring myself to use heavy cream either.

  3. I love orzo, great recipe here! Have a great weekend!


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