Risottos are usually made with Italian rice with wine and broth stirred until rich and creamy. In this recipe, the orzo - a rice shaped pasta - is cooked and then stirred in broth for a similar effect. Finally, parmesan cheese is stirred in for extra flavor and richness. I use a Microplane zester to shave the cheese into extremely fine pieces. This makes it very easy for the cheese to melt into the orzo.
I started off by assembling the main ingredients: 6 oz. (170 g) asparagus tips, 2 Tbs. chopped parsley, 12 oz. (340 g) orzo, 1 cup (235 mL) chicken broth, 3 oz. (55 g) butter, and 1/2 cup (50 g) grated parmesan cheese.
I also shelled, deveined, washed, and drained 1/2 pound (225 g) medium shrimp (about 30-40 count).
I brought about 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. (Next time I make this recipe, I'll probably use a larger pot - you'll see why when I cook the orzo.) When the water began to boil, I threw in about a tablespoon of salt and stirred until the salt dissolved. I dropped in the asparagus tips and allowed them to cook until tender - about four minutes.
I removed the asparagus from the water and set them aside on a plate. Then, I took the orzo and poured it into the water that I had used to cook the asparagus. I cooked the orzo until al dente - nine minutes.
Meanwhile, I melted the six tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan.
Once the butter was melted, I let it brown until it produced a nutty fragrance. I drained the shrimp one last time and added them to the pan. I lightly salted and peppered them. Then, I cooked the shrimp for one full minute before flipping them over and cooking for a final minute.
While the shrimp was cooking and the orzo was boiling, I cut the asparagus until 1-in. (2.5 cm) pieces.
The shrimp was then removed to the same plate as the asparagus. By now, I realized that I had just enough water in the orzo pan to cook the orzo, but wouldn't have much left over. I was a little concerned that if I couldn't drain the orzo, then it might be too salty. The recipe calls for reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and it looked like that was just about all I was going to have left over in the pan. So I decided to skip reserving the water.
I poured the chicken broth into the sauté pan to deglaze it. In the original recipe, 1/4 cup of reserved water from the drained orzo would also be added to the pan. Since I didn't have much water left in the orzo pan, I didn't drain it at all. I thought about rinsing the orzo to reduce the salt content (however, this will adversely affect the texture of the final dish as the starch content in the water is reduced) but felt that the saltiness wasn't overwhelming. I decided to take a chance and proceeded with the recipe. I used a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the sauté pan, then, when the broth started to bubble, I poured it into the orzo pot.
I stirred the orzo and broth over medium heat until the liquid thickened a bit and became creamy.
Then I put the cut asparagus and shrimp back in the orzo and mixed until heated through.
I removed the pot from the heat and mixed in the chopped parsley and grated parmesan. Taste the orzo at this point to determine if additional salt and pepper should be mixed in. Lucky for me, the saltiness was just right. I did add some freshly ground pepper.
The orzo risotto reminded me of Rice-A-Roni, except fresh and wonderful tasting. The clean seafood taste and creamy texture was great. This is definitely a dish I'd make again.}?>
Orzo Risotto with Buttery Shrimp (serves 4)
|6 oz. (170 g) asparagus tips||cook in boiling water until tender (4 min.)||cut into 1-in. (2.5 cm) pieces||mix until heated through||remove from heat and stir in|
|1/2-lb. (225 g) medium (30-40 ct.) shrimp||cook 1 min. each side|
|salt & pepper|
|3 oz. (55 g) butter||melt & brown|
|12 oz. (340 g) orzo||boil until al dente and drain, reserving 1/4 cup water||stir over medium heat until creamy|
|1 cup (235 mL) chicken broth||deglaze shrimp pan with 1/4 cup reserved orzo water|
|1/2 cup (50 g) grated parmesan cheese|
|2 Tbs. (7 g) chopped parsley|
|salt & pepper|