The weight loss blog

What is orzo—and what do I do with it?

March 1 2019
Esther Reynolds
By Esther Reynolds

If you like pasta and you’re keen on rice, then you’ll love orzo! Plus with Slimming World you can eat it freely and lose weight, giving you the best of all worlds.

What is orzo—and what do I do with it?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘pasta’? Long strands of spaghetti? Short tubes of penne? They’re certainly a couple of the most recognizable shapes out there. But as dried pasta is a Free Food when you’re following our Food Optimizing eating plan (meaning you can eat as much as you like to satisfy your appetite), it makes sense to start exploring other options. Like orzo—the tiny pasta shape that looks just like a grain of rice.

Though much smaller than other pasta varieties, orzo is one of the most versatile of the bunch: It can be stirred into soups, combined with crunchy spring veggies for a no-fuss lunch, or served as a side with roasted lean meat or fish. Even better, making a big batch of orzo at once ensures you’ll have enough on hand to whip up a whole range of satisfying meals throughout the week.

Ready to get cooking? Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add a 16-ounce box of orzo and cook until tender but not soft, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. You want the pasta to still have a bit of chew and bounce, which will help prevent it from sticking together. Drain and rinse well under cold water to stop the cooking process. Then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days, so you’re ready to…

Toss it with chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers, or roasted squash or Brussels sprouts. Then top with filling shredded cooked skinless chicken, a can of drained tuna (packed in water), or leftover cooked lean pork tenderloin, finished with a drizzle of fat-free Italian dressing.

Stuff it into a cored and seeded bell pepper along with cooked lean ground beef or turkey and tomato sauce. Cover with foil and bake until the pepper is tender and the filling is hot.

Mix it with chopped herbs, sautéed shallot or onion, and lemon juice and zest for a simple yet elegant side dish. Try it alongside roasted skinless chicken or fish.

Swap it into our chunky Italian minestrone soup in place of your usual small pasta, or use it to make our easy pea and ham risotto, rather than rice—practically no stirring required!

Inspired? You’ll find lots more slimming recipes on our website. Or try our exclusive 7-day Food Optimizing menu plan and start your weight loss success story today.