What is Orzo
Orzo can be called a type of “pastina”—a tiny type of pasta generally used to prepare soups and other dishes where pasta is a second main ingredient rather than the main part of the dish. Usually, Orzo is found more in Mediterranean dishes and commonly it is consumed as a side dish, just like in a pasta salad. The main ingredient of Orzo is wheat semolina flour.
Origins of Orzo
Similar to barley in its unprocessed form Orzo is in fact Italian for barley. As times have progressed Orzo has become a much more versatile product that comes in different types, shapes, sizes, and refinery processes. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at everything there is to know about Orzo.
Also Read: https://riceselect.com/product/orzo
Orzo Nutrition Facts
The nutrition information mentioned here is for ½ cup of orzo (Harris Teeter brand) as published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)1.
- Calories: 210
- Protein: 7g
- Fiber: 2g
- Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 41g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Sugars: 2g
As shown above, 1\2 cups of Harris Teeter brand of Orzo contains 7 grams of protein that is more in comparison to a full cup of oats. I compared Orzo with oats here as the former is said to be a protein-rich heavy grain.
Dietary protein is a crucial nutrient for the body as it is needed for maintaining bone and tissue health, satiating appetite, aids muscle growth, and is also part of healthy aging.
As a standalone ingredient Orzo contains just one gram per half-cup which is not enough to determine the benefits or harms of dietary fat. But if you need to add fat sources to your diet, pair orzo with olive oil, chopped avocado, or sweet potatoes to make it a fat-rich meal. This will also have added benefits like lowering the risk of heart disease, having a healthy brain, and improved cholesterol levels.
Minerals and Vitamins
When it comes to vitamins and minerals Orzo is filled with them. Since it is made from refined grains you can get folate, zinc, niacin, thiamine, magnesium, and manganese from Orzo. Being a whole-grain food product, orzo also contains high amounts of antioxidants that have many health benefits.
Carbohydrates in adequate quantities are essential to keep our bodies firing on all cylinders throughout the day. If you follow an intense workout routine then you will certainly need to consume good carbs to replenish the wear and tear that you put your body through. Orzo happens to be filled with these good carbohydrates that can be a good source of energy for athletes as well as regular individuals. Additionally, the Brain happens to be the fattest organ in the human body so it’s only befitting to refuel it with a good carb source.
Orzo definitely provides tons of health benefits that vary depending on the type of orzo that you buy.
Orzo is filled with good carbohydrates, a nutrient that’s used as fuel by our body and mind. So pairing Orzo with other nutritious foods is sure to give you a good energy boost. It is arguably one of the best energy sources for keto diets.
Keeps You Full
If you prepare a meal with whole-grain orzo and include good protein and fiber sources from vegetables and meat then you can surely sustain for long hours on a single meal. Cooking Orzo in olive oil can additionally help in giving you a fuller experience as the healthy fatty acids available in the oil helps suppress the long-lasting satiety. Unfortunately, if you are consuming Refined orzo then it will not offer the same benefits as refining reduces the fiber content.
Orzo is a product made from a certain type of wheat flour, hence it is not gluten-free so individuals with allergies related to gluten should prefer to skip Orzo. However, various brands have started selling gluten-free which is made from 30 percent rice flour and 70 percent corn flour. But regardless, if you are allergic to gluten or have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten insensitivity then it would be advisable to avoid orzo altogether.
Any bad effects?
Eating orzo pasta, in general, has no drawback, in fact, one could argue that it has more benefits than drawbacks. But if you are following a gluten-free diet make sure that you buy gluten-free orzo.
Orzo is high in calories as it contains roughly 50 percent more calories in comparison to white rice. For a regular diet, Orzo can be considered a superfood but if you are on a strict diet make sure you consult with your dietician about the consumption portions.
What’s more impressive about Orzo is that it comes under the whole-grain product category that is known to offer more benefits than refined white grain products that have been associated as a factor of causing poor moods, bloating, and blood sugar swings.
Types of Orzo
Similar to Pasta, you will find many kinds of Orzo. The most popular ones are Gluten-free orzo, Tri-color orzo, organic orzo, enriched orzo, and whole-grain orzo, each type is popular for its health benefits. You will also find pre-flavored orzo like spinach garlic orzo or sun-dried tomato orzo in your local supermarket, which may be better in taste but contain slightly more calories.
Best time for buying orzo
Just like any other crop, durum wheat the main ingredient of Orzo is a seasonal grain, but since it is harvested in huge volumes and manufactured into shelf-stable foods, the final consumer will never face any shortage of orzo supply.
Storage and Food Safety
Uncooked Orzo can be stored for long periods just like any other. However, cooked Orzo does not last for very long, 2 weeks at best if you store it in a clean food container and place it in your refrigerator.
Tip: Throw out leftover orzo if notice signs of mold are visible.
How to Prepare
In a classic ‘save the best for the last’ manner, the biggest benefit of Orzo is that it is easy to prepare the dish. So the next time you make your favorite pasta recipe just replace the pasta with Orzo and voila you have a healthy meal on hand. Generally, each brand includes directions on how to cook orzo in the packaging, if it is not available here’s a general guideline for cooking orzo:
- Step 1: Boil water in any vessel.
- Step 2: Gently place orzo in the boiling water so that there is no splatter
- Step 3: Now let the orzo boil for 9-10 minutes or longer if you want it to be softer.
- Step 4: Drain out the water by using a colander
- Chef’s secret: Use olize to saute the cooked orzo, this ensures that there is no clumping. After that you can use the cooked orzo to substitute any dish.