I love orzo. It’s a fantastically versatile rice shaped pasta that works well in soups, casseroles and anywhere you would use rice or pasta. It takes less time to cook than rice and has a really delicate texture and flavour too.
This is one of those meals that tastes really special but isn’t at all difficult to make. Yes, there is a bit of peeling and chopping, but it’s worth it. And if you don’t eat meat or are serving vegetarians, please just leave out the ham. I only include it when I have leftover ham to use up anyway.
The sherry adds a beautiful flavour to this dish, but it is still delicious without it. If you would rather leave it out, just substitute more stock.
To serve four people you need:-
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 parsnips, peeled and cut in half inch dice
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons oregano
a couple pinches of pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1½ cups orzo
4 cups vegetable stock
¼ cup sherry
½ cup frozen peas
1 cup chopped cooked ham
chopped parsley or dried parsley
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan with a lid or a stove top casserole. (I use my shallow Le Creuset casserole dish.)
Gently sauté the onion over medium heat until it begins to soften. Add the diced parsnips, carrots, oregano and pepper and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
When the vegetables all begin to soften a bit (this will take at least fifteen minutes), add the honey and stir to coat the vegetables. Now stir in the orzo.
Add the sherry and vegetable stock and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to a simmer, put the lid on the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender. Be sure to keep the heat low and stir frequently or the mixture will stick to the pan.
Stir in the ham and the peas, adding a bit more stock if the mixture needs it, and heat through for about five minutes.
Serve garnished with the parsley.