This recipe is the perfect solution for nights when you want something hearty, but don't want to make a big fuss about it. This orzo risotto has everything right in it: meat, pasta, vegetables, but it only takes one pot. And it has the velvety, creamy, hearty feel of risotto, with far fewer ingredients and babysitting.
Start off by browning good sweet Italian sausage in a little bit of olive oil, and add a chopped shallot if you have one. Then, add in the orzo, about half a box. Cover with water or stock, and if you follow the measurements below, and stir a little bit, after around 10 minutes, the orzo will be cooked and perfectly starchy and creamy, just like risotto. Add in the peas and Parmesan, and stir.
The sausage has that meaty fennel flavor. The peas pop sweetly in your mouth. The cheese makes everything thick and salty and nutty. And the orzo has collapsed in its own starchy, velvety juices. It's thick, homey Italian comfort food, and just what you need after a late walk home on a cold fall day. It's stick to your ribs, but so much simpler, and in a way, so much more welcome for it.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 10 ounces Italian sausage, removed from its casing
- 1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 pound orzo
- 3 cups hot water or low-sodium homemade or store-bought vegetable or chicken stock
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- A handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Heat the oil into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces until no longer pink. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the orzo and water or stock. Use a wooden spoon to help scrape any of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan from the sausage. Bring to a boil, then cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through (add more liquid if orzo starts to dry out or stick to the bottom). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas, and allow to cook for a minute or two just to thaw. Remove from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Serve immediately.