It’s weird the way naming conventions in food work, isn’t it?

Orzo is a type of pasta, it’s small, and sort of rice shaped – like a pine nut. One of the best things about Orzo is that like rice you can use it to make a very fast risotto type dish, called an Orzotto.

Chicken Orzotto (Pasta)

In Italian orzo means barley, so back in 2010 when I made a risotto using pearl barley, it too was called orzotto. While pearl barley cooks into a delicious risotto dish, you can’t say it’s fast. It takes longer to cook pearl barley than it does to cook rice.

Risotto is a firm favourite in our household, but the rice version takes a bit long for a week night meal. This is where Orzo (pasta) steps in.


Chicken Orzotto


~ makes enough for 2. Dinner sized portions.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 1/2 tablespoon of oil, I use rapeseed (canola) oil.
  • 1/2 of a large onion, finely diced.
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced.
  • 1 breast of chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes.
  • 150 grams of Orzo pasta
  • 3 large button mushrooms, sliced
  • 250ml of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of frozen soya beans, although peas, green beans or broad beans will do.
  • 1/4 cup of grana padano, or parmesan.

Add the oil to a frying pan under a medium heat, once the oil is hot, add the onions. Leave for a couple of minutes to soften, they should not brown.

Then add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute, before adding the diced chicken, cooking for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the Orzo pasta, mushrooms and stock to the pan. The stock should just cover most of the pasta. Leave to cook for 5 minutes, stirring to stop it from burning, and adding a little more water (and turning down the heat) if it starts to dry our too quickly.

Soya Beans and Grana Padano

Lastly add the soya beans and half the grana padano, stir and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes. It should be sticky but not wet, and the pasta should be cooked through.

Serve with a sprinkling of grana padano.

This is an amazingly quick dish, and as versatile as a risotto, the variations are endless and all at the speed for a healthy week night meal.