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Learn How Can You Add a Particular Touch
to Your Vegan Meals With Orzo

People all over the world don't seem to agree on the origins of orzo. For some, there is no point in arguing, it is Italian since the very name means “barley” in that language and the orzo grain actually resembles that cereal. However, for many people orzo originated in Greece. The evidence? Funnilly, kritharaki, as the Greeks call orzo, also means barley. However, the truth is that orzo is not cooked in the same way in both countries. 

As Greek wheat is slightly different from the one harvested in Italy, the flavor varies a bit and takes a slower cooking method. Either Italian or Greek, what we do know for a fact is that it is delicious and that it played a major role in Mediterranean cuisine.

Versatility at its best

Now, orzo didn’t stay within the old continent. Luckily for the rest of the world, it spread into neighboring regions and across the Atlantic ocean. Nowadays, a wide array of preparations in which orzo is the star can be enjoyed almost everywhere. Orzo’s journey to become a staple in many countries was possible due to its incredible versatility since its mild taste makes it a great pairing for almost any ingredient. 

Orzo as a side dish with beef stew? Combined with cucumber and olives in a salad? What about an orzo soup for those cold winter days? Throughout the years, each culture added its personal touch and created wonderful culinary experiences to appeal to all palates. In addition to the classical durum wheat orzo that is typically found in local shops, there are other versions for people with food allergies such as gluten-free orzo which is made of corn or quinoa.

The art of cooking orzo

How to cook orzo is no mystery as long as you consider a few things. As it is actually pasta shaped like rice, there is no real secret for the cooking method, just boil water and do it in the same way as if you were making spaghetti. Remember that for pasta al dente the ratio is two-to-one, this means that for 1 cup of orzo you’ll need 2 cups of water or broth. Stirring occasionally will avoid grains from sticking together but you can also give it a quick rinse before cooking. As regards the cooking time, orzo will be ready in 10-12 minutes, in case you prefer it softer, then try 15 minutes. On this occasion, we brought you an orzo-based dish that will steal everyone’s hearts and will make you look good with your vegan friend.

Ingredients (2 servings):

  • 1 cup orzo, uncooked.
  • 2 cups vegetable stock.
  • 5 oz (150 g) oyster mushrooms.
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) kale.
  • 2 tbsp white wine.
  • 2 garlic cloves.
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Vegan cheese, shredded.

Preparation:

  1. Slice the mushrooms and crush the garlic cloves. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and turn the heat to high. Add the mushrooms, garlic and the white wine and sauté them, stirring constantly, until they turn golden.
  2. Turn down the heat and add orzo. Stir for 1 minute. Then, add the vegetable stock (you can use water but stock will add some extra flavor) and turn up the heat again. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and cover. Orzo will be ready in 10 minutes but if you notice that liquid evaporates too soon, you can add some more.
  3. Once all the liquid has disappeared, put the kale into the skillet and season. Stir for 1 minute, make sure that all ingredients are mixed and sprinkle with vegan cheese. Ready to serve!

Extra Tips

Toppings are the easiest way of giving your meals a refresh. There are different versions of vegan cheese: mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, etc. but if you find their taste too invasive, why not try some fresh parsley or toasted nuts? Your taste buds know best, trust your instinct!

Looking for some vegetable protein? Mushrooms, of course! That is why they were included in this recipe, to create the perfect balance between carbs and proteins. There are plenty of other vegan-friendly proteins in the market such as tofu or seitan but remember to sauté them before starting with the recipe.

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