Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Painting with pasta

Pasta is fast, filling and simple. What it lacks at times is texture and color, which is why sauces were invented. But except for simple marinaras, sauces can pack a lot of calories.

The recipe below is somewhat low in fat, quick to make, and the contrast between the ivory orzo and the toasted vermicelli adds interest to the plate. Use a non-fat chicken broth (add salt to taste). I used a 12-inch sauté pan to hasten the absorption; if you use a smaller saucepan, you may need to adjust the time. This recipe was enough for two servings, and a second helping.

A little note about vermicelli: It goes by various names, and is used in the cuisines of many countries, not just Italy. In that country, it's also called orati in Bologne, minutelli in Venice, fermentini in Reggio and pancardelle in Mantua. (Perhaps that's because "little worms" isn't the most appetizing name for a pasta, although it is very descriptive of the untoasted cooked noodles.) If you can't find it, you can break angel hair pasta into tiny pieces and use it as a substitute. In Mexico, it's fideo; in Egypt, it's called she'reya (شعريه) in Arabic, and a very common dish mixes the dry toasted pasta cooked with rice. The most common vermicelli/rice dish in the United States is Rice-a-Roni®. For a home version that's not nearly as salty or processed, click HERE.

Orzo looks a lot like big rice grains, but it's pasta. Toast the vermicelli until it's very brown (without burning it) to increase the contrast with the orzo.

Lori K's orzo with vermicelli
Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup vermicelli
1/2 cup orzo
2 cups chicken broth
Salt to taste, if broth is unsalted

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet or wide saucepan (one with a lid, which will be used later). Add the vermicelli and cook, stirring frequently, until brown, about 5 minutes. Add the orzo and chicken broth, cover, bring to a full boil, then turn burner to low and cook for 15 minutes until most of the broth is absorbed. Serve.

1 comment:

  1. This was really good. In fact, way better than Rice-a-Roni (the San Francisco treat). Subtle, great texture. A must have!