What Does Orzo Taste Like?

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In this article, we're discussing orzo. We'll go over taste, texture, recipes and more. Wondering what makes orzo different from rice? Find out below.

box of orzo

Let's dive in...

What Does Orzo Taste Like? 

Have you ever seen orzo before? The little beige slivers in rice pilaf, which are actually pasta, are the orzo. As you can imagine, they taste like pasta even though they look like rice.

Orzo is not tasteless, but like other types of pasta, it doesn't exhibit a flavor that you could put your finger on if you were eating it in a meal. It may seem vaguely nutty, but it's the texture that's of greater interest, which we're about to get into.

It also takes on the flavor of whatever sauce and seasoning you add to it.

Orzo Texture 

If you've zeroed in on the orzo in your rice pilaf, it's probably because of the chewiness. Unlike spaghetti and penne, orzo is quite chewy.

Though orzo is firm, it's not like al dente pasta, which can be a little hard. Rather, it's tender, firm and chewy all at the same time, which is what makes it so lovely in rice, salads and soups.

Is Orzo Better Than Rice? 

We wouldn't call orzo better than rice. It's just different. There's a chewiness to rice, too, but it's not nearly as pronounced as in orzo. The texture of orzo can be preferable at times, but you don't necessarily want a side of orzo with your curry since it's a little more loose than rice and would be soupy.

This tiny pasta plays well with other ingredients (like rice). If a defined texture is missing from what you're cooking up, orzo can step in the save it.

Can You Eat Orzo Cold? 

You can eat orzo hot or cold. There are cold salad recipes with orzo that are very much like the more well-known chilled pasta salads. But you can heat them up if you prefer.

Temperature is not really going to make a huge difference in the texture. Really cold orzo could be a little firmer, but it will by no means be hard and unpleasant.

What Can You Substitute for Orzo? 

Because orzo settles somewhere between rice and pasta in texture and flavor, you can use either in a recipe if you don't have orzo, though with some finesse.

A salad will probably do best with pasta, whether it's penne, bow tie pasta or macaroni. If the orzo is more of a complement than a main ingredient, rice could be the better way to go.

What to Do with Orzo 

Now that you know what orzo is and how it functions in a variety of dishes, we'll look at some of the cool vegan recipes you'll want to try your hand at.

Here's a brothy soup for any season. The orzo is perfect for making it dense and satisfying.

Have these ingredients ready:

  • Orzo
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Bell pepper
  • Spinach
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Veggie stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley

You can treat orzo just like pasta. This video will show you what that might look like with a tomato basil sauce finished with capers.

Here are the ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Orzo
  • Vegan white wine
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Vegetable broth
  • Salt
  • Capers
  • Fresh basil

This orzo salad is great as a side or a main meal. Throw in a handful of greens and you've got a full-fledged lunch salad.

Get these ingredients at the store:

  • Orzo
  • Limes
  • Olive oil
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Red bell pepper
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes

Wrap Up 

Orzo looks like rice, but it's a tiny type of pasta. It's used more for texture than for flavor as it's so neutral-tasting and chewy, enhancing salads, soups and entrees. Any savory, zesty or spicy flavor goes with orzo, so get as creative as you like. 

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