Orzo and Sweet Pea Risotto

Orzo has become one of my family’s favorite pastas. I serve it often, as a comforting side dish in place of rice. Usually, I simply cook the orzo in a two-to-one ratio of chicken stock to the pasta, just like you’d cook rice. That way you don’t have to drain the orzo, which can be tricky because the small "grains" can easily slip through the holes in most colanders.

This recipe takes my simple orzo preparation a step further. The orzo is cooked in chicken stock or canned chicken broth, until it’s almost done. Then, sautéed snow peas and chopped green onions are added, along with some chopped fresh parsley, grated parmesan, lemon juice and fresh or frozen sweet peas.

If you are lucky enough to have a source for fresh sweet peas, by all means use them here. You’ll simply need to blanch them for a few minutes before adding them to the risotto. This risotto is a wonderful side dish with grilled chicken or fish, and can stand alone with the addition of a pound of steamed shrimp.

  • 1 pound orzo
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup snow peas, washed and ends removed
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 cup fresh sweet peas, blanched
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add orzo, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until pasta is almost cooked. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add snow peas and chopped green onions and sauté until snow peas are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Stir the snow pea and green onion mixture into the orzo, along with the peas, lemon juice, parsley and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.