Orzo with Onions, Garlic and Peppers is a colorful, flavorful dish that is great for a meatless meal, or as a side dish for many types of protein.
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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of carbs. Potatoes, pasta, rice…you name it, I eat it. When I’m in full running mode I justify my carb rush, because those extra carbs help to keep me fueled. When I’m out of running mode I still eat them, but try to do so in moderation. A few of my favorite carb recipes on the blog are:
- Oven Roasted Potatoes with Parmesan & Thyme
- Pesto Chicken Penne Pasta
- Thai Shrimp Soup
- Baked Homemade Mac & Cheese
ORZO: PASTA OR RICE?
When you first look at Orzo, you might think it’s a thicker cut of rice. However, it is just a rice-shaped pasta. I always have white orzo in the pantry, as it’s the most widely available. Whole wheat orzo is a little harder to find, but is available online and in some grocery stores. It is healthier, but I’m not a fan of the mealy texture.
I actually don’t use orzo very often, and I’m not sure why. Unfortunately I think it’s one of those things that’s out of sight, out of mind. I need to change my mindset on that, because it’s versatile, and works so well as a simple side or part of a main dish.
One of my favorite orzo side dishes is Orzo with Onions, Garlic and Peppers. I discovered a similar recipe a few years ago on Pinterest, and immediately fell in love with the bold colors, flavors and simplicity.
I mean, how can you not love this Orzo with Onions, Garlic and Peppers?! This dish is great on its own, but also complements poultry and red meat very well. I serve mine hot, but it would also do well at room temperature, or even cold. That makes it perfect for a picnic or potluck.
KEYS TO THE PERFECT ORZO WITH ONIONS, GARLIC AND PEPPERS
- Pine Nuts: I toast the pine nuts first, to release the natural oil and nuttiness. Make sure you keep an eye on the pine nuts! They take a few minutes to go from raw to golden, and then just seconds to burn. Once they burn, throw them out. Pine nuts are expensive. You don’t want to do that
- Garlic: when you brown the garlic, the same principal applies…cook it low and slow, and remove the garlic as soon as it is golden brown. Burnt garlic is even worse than burnt pine nuts
- Bell Peppers: the more colors, the better. I always have red, yellow and green bell peppers in the fridge. If you have orange, throw those in there as well!
MORE FLAVORS FOR ORZO WITH ONIONS, GARLIC AND PEPPERS
The original recipe calls for the onions, garlic and peppers to be sauteed in both Olive Oil and butter. The first few times, I did olive oil only; then I added margarine, and then I switched to Smart Balance spread. About a year ago, I discovered Amish roll butter, and that changed my life. I love the silky texture, and a little goes a long way. I also switched to Avocado Oil, again because of the wonderful silky texture. But of course, use what you like best.
I also add white wine to the sauteed onions, before adding the bell peppers. The alcohol cooks out, and leaves a wonderful flavor. I prefer a dry white wine, as a sweet wine will make the final dish a little too sweet. The most critical key is to use wine you like to drink! If you use bad wine, you’ll end up with a bad dish.
Orzo with Onions, Garlic and Peppers is definitely going back up high on my list of go-to side dishes.
Adapted from From Which Things Grow
- 4 ounces orzo pasta
- 1 Tablespoon raw pine nuts
- 1/2 cup each red, yellow, and green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook orzo according to recipe directions, in a pot of boiling, salted water
- Add pine nuts to a large, cold skillet. Turn heat to medium-low, and toast pine nuts until they are golden brown. Watch carefully, as pine nuts burn easily. Remove and set aside
- Add margarine and olive oil to same skillet, and turn heat to medium
- When butter has melted, add onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent
- Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute
- Add wine, turn heat to medium-high, and cook for 2-3 minutes. The alcohol will cook out, leaving only flavor
- Once liquid is almost gone, add bell peppers, salt & pepper. Saute peppers until tender-crisp
- Drain orzo and add to skillet. Add pine nuts, and toss mixture fully to combine